Do Boston Surgical Mistakes Cause Massachusetts Hospitals to Profit?

According to a recent Journal of American Medicine study, hospitals make more money when surgical errors occur. The reasons for this is that patients who are the victims of this type of medical mistake often have to undergo more surgical procedures and extend their hospital stay in order to recover, which means that their hospital bills inevitably go up.

The study, called Relationship Between Occurrence of Surgical Complications and Hospital Finances, found that when surgical errors take place, hospitals are paid about $40,000 more for patients who have private insurance and $2,000 for those with Medicare. The researchers say that modifying the payment system, which would put a halt to rewarding poor medical care (perhaps even offer incentives for great medical care), could decrease the number of medical mistakes that happen. However, they were careful to note that they are not implying that hospitals are encouraging their surgeons to make mistakes in order to make more money.

Out of 34,256 people who underwent surgery at one hospital in Texas in 2010, 1,820 of them suffered complications that were preventable, including infected incisions, blood clots, and pneumonia. The median length of hospital stay for victims of medical mistakes went up to 14 days-that’s four times more than the average stay for patients who didn’t experience surgical errors. Meantime, hospital revenue was about $30,500 greater for patients who were the victims of surgical errors.

Boston Surgical Mistakes
Boston surgical mistakes can cause serious health complications, even death for the patient. Many errors could have been prevented. Some surgical mistakes are a result of medical inexperience, fatigue, lack of sleep, carelessness, poor communication in the operating room, or inadequate and procedures to ensure that such errors don’t happen.

Common surgical errors include:

• Operating on the wrong area of the body (called wrong-site surgery)
• Leaving medical tools inside the patient • Performing the wrong procedure • Performing the correct procedure on the wrong patient • Anesthesia errors
In Massachusetts, contact our Boston medical malpractice lawyers at Altman & Altman, LLP today.

Hospitals Profit From Surgical Errors, Study Finds, The New York Times, April 16, 2013

Relationship Between Occurrence of Surgical Complications and Hospital Finances, JAMA, April 17, 2013

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