Tort reform advocates frequently argue that lawsuits against doctors and hospitals drive up the costs of health care. Yet, according to a recent study, hospitals are actually profiting from their own mistakes because insurers pay for longer stays and extra care when preventable surgical complications occur.
This study was published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The study looked at 12 hospitals and found that the hospitals on average made $30,500 more for patients with preventable complications than for patients without complications. The study's researchers argued that to help reduce these complications, insurers should stop paying for substandard care and should reward high quality care with bonuses. Further, they called for mandatory disclosure of the complication rates of hospitals.
As a medical malpractice attorney in Chicago, I am not surprised by this study at all. For decades, hospitals have been blaming medical malpractice plaintiffs and their attorneys for the high costs of health care. This study shows that the hospitals themselves are to blame for the high costs of health care. Worse yet, this study shows that hospitals have been profiting from their own mistakes, while labeling victims of medical errors who seek compensation through the court system as greedy.
Next time someone tries to tell you that medical malpractice lawsuits are hurting health care in the United States by driving up costs, please refer him or her to this study.