Hospitals and doctors in the U.S. are generally paid on a fee-for-service basis. This means that the more care provided, the more money the healthcare provider stands to make. Recently, a study in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) indicated that this fee-for-service payment structure is creating an incentive for hospitals or physicians to make surgical mistakes in order to receive larger payments for the post-op care.
Our Columbus medical malpractice attorneys know that surgical mistakes do happen regularly and that patients can suffer serious harm as a result. However, it is not clear that hospitals actually have any incentive to make or allow these types of mistakes, despite the fact that they may potentially be paid more to treat patients after medical mistakes complicate recovery.
Can Hospitals Profit from Surgical Errors?
According to Yahoo, the study in JAMA revealed that a patient could pay thousands more for care after a surgical mistake. After a review of more than 34,500 inpatient surgical procedures performed at twelve different hospitals in the year 2010, researchers found that:
- A hospital would make an extra profit of $30,500 in each situation where a patient developed one or more complications after surgery.
- Some serious surgical mistakes would result in hospitals earning an extra profit of as much as $44,000 or more per patient.
The hospital made the extra money from the patient because the patient needed follow-up care and likely had a longer hospital stay. Since a patient pays for each service, the hospital profits when this occurs.
Medical Malpractice Claims Keep Hospitals from Profiting From Mistakes
Of course, hospitals should never profit from a surgical error since this is grossly unfair to the patient. Medical malpractice laws exist to make sure that hospitals and healthcare providers provide reasonable, competent care and medical malpractice laws work to ensure that no hospital benefits from providing or allowing substandard care of a patient.
When considering the added fees that hospitals generate after a surgical error, it is important to take into account the effect of a medical malpractice claim. If a hospital is sued by a patient because of a surgical mistake, then the hospital would generally have to pay out at least as much as was made in extra profits and likely much more. This is because medical malpractice claims require a hospital or care provider to cover all losses including the costs of medical bills, lost income/wages, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
If a patient were to be treated for surgical complications, therefore, the hospital where negligence played a role in causing the complications would need to pay the bills to treat them. Thus, any added profit would be lost as well as additional money to pay for the plaintiff's other losses.
The only way a hospital can profit from a surgical mistake, therefore, is to get away with it and to have the patient not bring a medical malpractice claim. Patients should not allow hospitals to get away with this and should seek legal help in any situation where they developed a surgical complication as a result of the negligence or wrongdoing of a healthcare provider.
If you have been injured due to medical malpractice in Columbus, contact the Law Offices of Scott Elliot Smith. Call 888-311-5297 for a free consultation.