Medical malpractice

How Hospital Bankruptcy Affects Patient Care

February 5, 2020 by James McHugh, Jr.
Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa.

Uncertainty in the health care industry is leaving patients and staff alike uneasy, as at least 30 hospitals across the country entered bankruptcy in 2019, including Hahnemann University Hospital in downtown Philadelphia. Analysts predict 8% of U.S. hospitals are at risk of closing, with an additional 10% considered very weak. With the rising costs of health care treatments and financial issues within health care systems, patients are concerned with the quality of care they’re receiving now more than ever.

Underprivileged Patients Bear the Brunt

Across the nation, more and more major cities are witnessing a shift in their population and housing markets. As waves of once urban residents flee inner cities in exchange for less expensive suburbs, the health care systems that serve them move as well. New, state-of-the-art hospitals and care centers are now becoming available in suburban communities, as the health care system’s focus shifts. Unfortunately for urban communities’ residents, this means even less attention is being given to facility upkeep, including health care equipment and hospital infrastructure and correspondingly patient care suffers.

Many health care systems serving urban communities depend on government payouts from programs such as Medicaid and Medicare to subsidize patients unable to cover the cost of treatment. This means a patient who arrives at an emergency room should be assisted regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay; however, this does not always happen.

Patients can find themselves at an emergency room for a plethora of reasons; and, while suffering an intense injury or illness is most common reason, many patients have no other option but to seek care at an emergency room. Of the patients at Philadelphia’s Hahnemann University Hospital, which saw over 40,000 patients annually, two-thirds held government health insurance. Additionally, Hahnemann’s emergency room cared for as many as 150 patients a day, including those without a medical emergency, thus racking up $3 million in losses per month. In rural communities lacking health care options, emergency rooms may serve as the only way to interact with physicians and staff who are able to diagnosis and treat ailments.

Aware of this, health care systems continue to place sales profits before human lives. Hahnemann’s parent corporation, American Academic Health, was one of several health care systems that determined providing care is not profitable enough to keep hospitals open in rural and urban communities. Aside from stripping away the only health care option for many, hospital closures also add to the vicious cycle of poverty that plagues many of these communities. Job loss, such as the 3,000 workers formerly employed by Hahenmann University Hospital, directly affects local economies, only furthering the divide between who is eligible for quality care and who is not.

Dangerous Stigmas

Urban and rural patients are often stigmatized as not being able to fully cover the cost of their medical treatment. This can become an implicit prejudice for health care staff, making them rate these patients’ needs or conditions as less than those of a patient being cared for at a more prestigious hospital. This ideology has led to senseless fatalities, such as the death of a patient in a York, Pennsylvania emergency room. This way of thinking was born out of the notion that if a community wants a better hospital, it needs to fund the improvements itself; once again reinforcing the mistaken belief that quality health care is not a right and rather a privilege for those who can afford it.

Philadelphia Hospital Negligence Attorneys

No patient should have to suffer due to a health care system’s own financial woes. All patients have the right to receive timely, quality treatment and care. When a patient receives substandard care, hospitals and health care staff put them in harm’s way. If you or someone you know has been injured by hospital negligence in Philadelphia, contact our medical malpractice attorneys immediately to discuss your options at no charge. Time limitations apply to your potential claims, so do not delay in contacting a lawyer to get help.

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