Study: Hospitals are making more money when patients are harmed

As we have mentioned in other posts on our Chicago medical malpractice law blog, there are many actions that hospitals and medical professionals can take to prevent patients from suffering from surgical errors, medication errors, hospital-acquired infections, and other medical mistakes. Although patients in Illinois might assume that hospitals are focused on finding ways to reduce the number of errors that are made in their facilities each year, this may not necessarily be the case.

Medical mistakes affect thousands of patients every year throughout the U.S., and these mistakes can actually result in hospitals making more money. Not all patients realize that their complications from surgical procedures or other injuries suffered during their hospital stays are caused by hospital negligence and medical professionals’ errors. This means that patients and their insurance providers may end up paying more than what they should for extended hospital stays, additional surgeries to repair injuries, and other additional medical treatments.

This also means that hospitals may end up profiting from surgical errors and complications from surgeries that harm patients, a new study suggests.

The study was recently published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The study certainly does not suggest that hospitals are encouraging medical professionals to make mistakes, but the study does suggest that hospitals may need more of an incentive to reduce the number of mistakes that are made each year.

For the study, researchers analyzed medical information of more than 34,250 patients who had undergone surgical operations in 2010. At least 1,800 surgeries resulted in one surgical error or other complications. Researchers then analyzed patients’ medical expenses resulting from surgeries that were performed with and without errors and complications. The study revealed that the average revenue for hospitals from surgeries resulting in no complications was $18,900. However, the average revenue for hospitals from surgeries that resulted in complications was $49,400.

Source: CBS News, “Surgical complications and errors bring in more money for hospitals,” Michelle Castillo, April 17, 2013

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Study: Hospitals are making more money when patients are harmed