Alabama Malpractice Watch: When Hospitals Profit from Medical Errors

General logic might tell us that hospital doctors and staff would want to do everything they could to avoid a surgical error potentially leading to a personal injury or wrongful death.Civil litigation can be costly, and it may ultimately reflect badly on the institution or individual practitioner.

In reality, our Montgomery wrongful death attorneys understand these entities may have incentive NOT to correct problems or procedures that could lead to a serious injury or death following a surgery.

The reason, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is that hospitals actually triple their profits when surgical errors are made, compared to when things go smoothly.

On average, researchers found that hospitals were raking in approximately $31,000 more when a patient had developed at least one preventable surgical complication.


Because these complications mean that the patient is going to require longer, more intensive treatment than would have originally been required.

Ultimately, the effect is that hospitals are being rewarded, at least financially, for failing to ensure proper care of patients. The study, conducted by doctors with the Boston Consulting Group at Harvard, analyzed the outcome of some 35,000 inpatient procedures at a Texas-based hospital system covering 12 regions during 2010. It’s believed to be the first such study to delve into the effects of complications from surgery when compared to the profit margins of the hospital.

The research team concluded that the findings should be an impetus for payment reform among health care providers.

It’s especially important as we consider that the number of Americans who die each year continues to climb. Back in 1999, the Institute of Medicine released statistics indicating that some 100,000 Americans were victims of lethal hospital errors. That would be as if we had four large jets crashing every single week.

And yet, in the last 10 years, despite numerous medical advances, that number is actually on the rise. A 2011 study released by the journal Health Affairs revealed that approximately one-third of all patients admitted to the hospital suffer some complication arising from an error. Even worse, our knowledge of these incidents is fractional, with many of the adverse events stemming from surgical mistakes failing to be properly reported under current reporting methods.

One medical researcher and author was recently quoted as saying that if medical mistakes were collectively a single disease, it would be the No. 1 cause of death in this country.

The Institute for Health Care Improvement reported that out of more than 40 million patients who are admitted to hospitals every year, about 15 million suffer some type of medical harm.

Almost every time there is a hospital error, a patient is going to require additional services to recover (if they do recover), be that in the form of medicine or an extended stay or possibly even additional surgery. Hospitals in turn get paid for every individual service they provide. So outrageously, more mistakes mean more money.

Call Allred & Allred P.C. at 334.396.9200 to speak with a Montgomery wrongful death attorney today.

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