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Study: Hospitals “Profit Handsomely” From Surgical Errors



April 23, 2013 – Comments (1)

 “It’s shocking, crazy and perverse that hospitals are being financially rewarded for harming patients, while the prize for hospitals that are working hard to improve patient safety and reduce surgical errors is losing money,” says Barry Rosenberg, MD.

I  found the  following article rather  interesting:

For flawless surgery, the hospital netted a median profit of $18,900, compared to a profit of $49,400 when the operation went awry.  Complications doubled the profit if the patient was covered by Medicare, and tripled the profit if the patient had private insurance.

Widow Billed for Care That Killed Her Husband

His dad was hospitalized to treat pneumonia and within 36 hours, developed a hospital-acquired infection that lead to sepsis and a gruesome death five weeks later.

Then his mother was hit with the bill for what Goldhill calls “the service of killing my father”—$635,685.75.

“Had I booked Dad a room at the most expensive hotel in town for the five weeks of his illness, filled the room with a million dollars’ worth of hospital equipment leased for $15,000 a month, given him round-the-clock nursing care, and paid a physician to spend an hour a day with him (roughly 50 minutes more than at the hospital), it would total roughly $150,000,” Goldhill wrote for Bloomberg View.

Understandably, the grieving widow didn’t pay the bill, nor did the hospital try to collect, Goldhill reports. However, the hospital did receive a hefty fee from Medicare for its fatal care, he adds.

Medicare and some other insurers have taken measures to make errors unprofitable, such as refusing to pay for “never events” like operating on the wrong leg or leaving surgical instruments or sponges inside the patient.


1 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On April 23, 2013 at 10:05 PM, GraemesPSP (99.73) wrote:

The rest of that paragraph was worth including also.  Actually the whole article should be read by everyone.  I wish he'd named and shamed the hospital, but I guess there are probably legal reasons he couldn't :

  This comparison with actual prices is absurd, of course, because it assumes that the prices on my father’s bill were real prices. No one was actually supposed to pay that bill. The prices didn’t even bear a relationship to the exchange of funds for Dad’s treatment. The hospital billed my mother for her share ($992), which she wisely didn’t pay and the hospital wisely didn’t try to collect. Medicare paid the hospital according to its concept of the hospital’s cost. Of course, there’s no question what the competitive price would be for the service of killing my father: zero


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