American Medical Association-Hospitals Are Profiting From Their Own Surgical Errors

The American Medical Association published an article and an editorial on new research that reveals that hospitals actually make a profit from their own surgical errors, because surgical errors often require extended hospital stays, possible further surgery, and more medical treatment, they are able to charge more for these services, even though they are a result of medical error. The AMA views this (correctly, I might add) as a major problem in the way insurance companies pay hospital claims. According to the NY Times, “The study is based on a detailed analysis of the records of 34,256 people who had surgery in 2010 at one of 12 hospitals run by Texas Health Resources. Of those patients, 1,820 had one or more complications that could have been prevented, like blood clots, pneumonia or infected incisions. The median length of stay for those patients quadrupled to 14 days, and hospital revenue averaged $30,500 more than for patients without complications ($49,400 versus $18,900). Private insurers paid far more for complications than did Medicare or Medicaid, or patients who paid out of pocket.” The study’s authors were quick to point out such profits were not found to be intentional. However, the problem remains.