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Can a careless surgeon actually benefit a hospital's profits?

A surgeon mistake is one of the biggest concerns that a person and his or her family will experience prior to a medical procedure. It goes without saying that medical professionals don't try to make errors. However, what many people in the Boston area may be unaware of is that hospitals could stand to benefit from errors due to the extra income they will receive from extended hospital stays and, perhaps, the need for more surgery.

While it might be shocking to learn that hospitals actually receive collaterally beneficial results from surgeon mistake and other errors, the Journal of the American Medical Association has researched the facts in these situations and made some remarkable discoveries. The study examined 34,256 people who underwent surgery at one of 12 hospitals. Of those patients, 1,820 wound up with complications after surgery such as blood clots and pneumonia.

The amount of time these patients had to stay in the hospital was increased. For some it ran up to two extra weeks. Insurers wound up paying significantly higher amounts to the hospitals than would have been paid had there been no complications.

Insurers are increasingly keeping a list of mistakes that a negligent operating room staff or a careless surgeon might make leading to worsened condition in patients. Hospital complication rates, which at the time of the study stood at approximately 5.3 percent, were universally consistent with hospitals similar to the ones that were a part of this study.

This is not to imply that doctors are purposely making errors that can injure a patient, but because a hospital stands to benefit from errors that are made and complications or illnesses that result, a person could be negatively affected by carelessness with the medical facility garnering a positive net result. If a mistake has been made, it's important to understand that legal options are available.

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

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