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Hospitals make more money from mistakes

A surprising study done by several well-known organizations has discovered that hospitals benefit financially when patients do not receive proper care when they go in for surgery. The researchers discovered that when hospitals made errors that required patients to need more care and longer stays, insurance companies paid for it. This could mean that if hospitals in Massachusetts make surgical errors, they may end up profiting from them.

The study looked at over 34,000 patients who underwent surgery in 2010 and found that nearly 6 percent of of those patients had one or more complications that were avoidable. Their median stay was extended to 14 days, and the hospital took in more than $30,000 from these patients on average. While researchers emphasize that they do not believe hospitals and medical professionals are making mistakes on purpose to make more money, there is a financial disincentive to improve patient care.

Researchers believe that for there to be any real change, insurance companies need to stop compensating hospitals for errors and poor patient care. Further, medical care needs to move away from a system that encourages quantity of procedures instead of quality. One suggestion made was that insurance companies should provide bonuses for outstanding patient care to give medical facilities a financial reason to improve.

No matter what the root cause of medical negligence, people who are not cared for properly may end up worse off than when they went into the hospital. Someone in this circumstance may want to speak with an attorney who could help them understand their legal options.

Source: New York Times, "Hospitals Profit From Surgical Errors, Study Finds," Denise Grady, April 16, 2013

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