How Hospital Business Decisions Affect Patient Care and Outcomes
With the rising costs of healthcare treatments and financial issues within healthcare systems, patients are rightfully concerned with the quality of care they’re receiving. In addition to a pandemic, increasing hospital bankruptcies, and overworked and traumatized medical staff, across the nation, more and more major cities are witnessing shifts in population and housing markets. As urban residents flee inner cities, the healthcare systems that serve them move as well. Hospital systems are run as a business and thus focus their efforts where they can make the most money. This means urban treatment facilities are getting even less attention, upkeep, and improvement than before, causing patient care to suffer.
Underserved Communities Suffer from Downturn in Patient Care Quality
While patients who arrive at an emergency room should be assisted regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay, this does not always happen. Patients can find themselves at an emergency room for a plethora of reasons; while suffering an intense injury or illness is the most common reason, many patients have no other healthcare option but an emergency room. In rural communities lacking healthcare options, emergency rooms may be the only way to interact with physicians and staff who can diagnose and treat patients.
Many healthcare 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. For example, 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, causing $3 million in losses per month.
Aware of this, healthcare systems continue to place profits before human lives. Hahnemann’s parent corporation, American Academic Health, was one of several healthcare systems that determined providing care is not profitable enough to keep hospitals open in rural and urban communities, stripping away the only healthcare option for many residents.
Dangerous Stigmas Lead to Medical Negligence
Urban and rural patients are often stigmatized as not being able to fully cover the cost of their medical treatment. This can create implicit bias in healthcare staff, making them rate these patients’ needs or conditions as less than those of others. This ideology has led to senseless fatalities, such as the death of a patient in a York, Pennsylvania emergency room.
Hospital Mergers Decrease Quality of Care and Increase Costs
It may seem obvious, but a patient’s main focus and concern when receiving care should be on healing; however, the current state of the healthcare industry shifts attention away from what matters most (patients) to how much care costs.
Another business practice hospitals use to increase profits at the expense of patient care quality is to consolidate. Since 2010, hospital mergers and acquisitions have grown at a rapid pace. While hospitals and insurance providers benefit, studies show their profits come at the expense of patients. The New England Journal of Medicine released a study on healthcare mergers and acquisitions which suggested that while the cost of caring for commercially insured patients increased, the quality of patient care did not. In some cases, 30-day mortality and readmission rates increased as the result of hospital mergers.
In addition, having options forces hospitals to up their game when it comes to patient service and care. When a patient has fewer treatment options, the choices available lead to higher rates of readmission and mortality due to a lack of competition.
How Federal Funding Can Affect Patient Care
As patients, we don’t generally think about how hospitals are funded, but the source of funding can impact our treatment. Federally funded hospitals often serve low-income areas. In theory, federally funded hospitals are a good thing, as they are designed to provide healthcare to populations that ordinarily would have trouble accessing it. Unfortunately, several problems with federally funded hospitals create great risks for patients.
Many federally funded hospitals are grossly understaffed. With incredibly high doctor-to-patient ratios, patients don’t receive as much time with doctors and are thus more likely to experience medical errors, misdiagnosis, and other dangerous complications. Adding insult to injury, when medical errors do occur in government-funded medical facilities, it is much more difficult for patients to receive compensation.
Regardless of which hospital they choose, patients have rights. Whether a hospital is federally or privately funded, the facility must uphold a certain standard of care. When a hospital falls below this level of care, it can be held responsible. For patients who have suffered from hospital negligence in a federally funded facility, obtaining compensation can be nearly impossible on their own. However, with the help of an experienced hospital negligence attorney, patients can hold the responsible parties accountable.
Philadelphia Hospital Negligence Attorneys
All patients have the right to receive timely, quality medical treatment and care. No patient should have to endure the care of a doctor who causes more harm than good. When a patient receives substandard care, hospitals and healthcare 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. The trial lawyers at Lopez McHugh LLP have over 50 years of combined experience helping victims of medical malpractice. Time limitations apply to your potential claims, so do not delay in contacting a lawyer to get help.