The connection between hospital profits and surgical complications

For patients in Sangamon County, many don't expect that a routine procedure could potentially have life-threatening consequences. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical negligence is third in line after heart disease and cancer as one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

Why hospitals aren't likely to stop medical malpractice

By definition, medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional provides a patient with substandard treatment, or the results of their care cause harm or even death. Types of medical malpractice are varied. A patient may be the victim of medical negligence if:

  • Their doctor or nurse gives them the wrong dosage of a medication or they given the wrong medication altogether.
  • A surgeon operates on the wrong part of their body.
  • They are misdiagnosed with an incorrect illness.
  • Things are left in their body after surgery.
  • They suffer from back pain, a staph infection or pressure ulcers after receiving medical care.

Although medical negligence is an extremely serious problem, a recently published survey in JAMA discovered that hospitals are not taking action to prevent medical malpractice because of profits. According to the study, hospitals get paid more when patients come in with the effects of infections and other errors.

While hospitals aren't purposely making mistakes in surgeries to boost their profits, it is not in their best interests to put a complete stop to these problems. For example, in an analysis completed by Harvard Medical researchers in 2010, a hospital in the southern U.S. was paid an average of $49,400 for patients that came in due to surgical complications. This is more than double than what patients paid for their initial surgery, which is approximately $18,900.

Patients taking action

A variety of methods and safety procedures can be used to stop medical negligence in hospitals. However, according to the chief medical officer at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, the only sure-fire way to make hospitals safer for patients is for medical professionals to make a commitment to stopping harmful practices and error altogether.

Because profit is part of the equation when hospitals consider whether or not to be stricter on their safety regulations, many hospitals may not be quick to implement new strategies after an incident. However, patients can take action when it comes to their own well-being by having family members or friends attend medical appointments with them, communicating effectively with all doctors, nurses and surgeons caring for them and knowing vital information about any medications they are taking.

However, taking medical care into your own hands isn't always enough. If you believe you were the victim of medical negligence during a recent surgery, contact an attorney in your area that can help you determine if you have a case against your medical care provider.