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Study shows hospitals have little incentive to improve patient care

A recent study on hospital care was conducted that revealed interesting findings relating to patient care. The study showed that hospitals likely have little incentive to reduce never events or complications relating to surgery or medical errors because they are actually profiting from the occurrences. This alarming conclusion is proof that casts significant doubt on whether hospital patients today are really receiving proper care.

Profits likely take precedent

The study looked at thousands of medical records of patients who had surgery in 2010 at various hospitals operated by Texas Health Resources, a nonprofit health network provider that operates facilities located in Texas and across the U.S.

Out of the approximately 34,000 patients surveyed, about 1800 of those patients experienced complications during their stay, such as pneumonia or hospital acquired infections, which required additional care or treatment. The study also found that the hospital bills for these 1800 patients was over twice the typical bill for patients in this category who did not suffer from surgical complications.

Researcher conclude that when hospitals make that kind of profit, there is little incentive for them to really reduce medical errors from occurring-particularly when proposals that actually mitigate medical complications cost money. Hospitals are just like any other business and are always looking for ways to increase the bottom line. Why spend money to reduce medical errors when they can make a profit?

Researchers, however, believe that hospitals are not deliberately causing medical errors just to bring in more revenue. They simply suggest that it’s common sense for entities in the healthcare business-or any for-profit business-not to take action.

Measures to incentive hospitals lacking

However, the federal government has taken measures to help reduce these errors and incentivize hospitals to do right by patients. As of October 2008, the Center for Medicare & Medicare Services, or CMS, no longer reimburses hospitals treating Medicare and Medicaid patients for certain “never events,” or essentially preventable procedures, injuries or illnesses that occur. However, some argue that Medicare is fairly liberal on this payback policy and there is no real threat.

Various health insurers have also followed suit and refused to cover the care for patients who need extra care as a result of medical errors at a hospital or healthcare facility. It’s not known how many do though.

But a representative from America’s Health Insurance Plans indicates that the system won’t change until quality is rewarded and hospitals have incentives to provide better care. There should be “methods of payment that reward better care,” she says.

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