Is Medical Malpractice a Money-Maker?


Much has been said and written about the plight of doctors today, so beset by the costs of looming medical malpractice suits that they can barely make a living.

So it is no wonder a lot of people were stopped in their tracks by the eye-popping headline on a recent New York Times article: “Hospitals Profit from Surgical Errors, Study Finds.”

What?? Can that really be true? Is medical malpractice really a profit-making venture, like those insurance scams where people intentionally get into car accidents?

Not exactly. The article went on to explain that according to the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, hospitals are inadvertently rewarded for their mistakes because their errors result in longer hospital stays and additional care, which drive up the amounts they bill insurers. Analyzing the medical records of more than 34,000 people who had surgery in Texas in 2010, the researchers found the median hospital stay for those who developed preventable complications was quadruple that of the patients who did not.

Other highlights of the article:

  • Private insurers paid far more due to preventable complications than did Medicare, Medicaid or self-paying individuals.
  • One expert pointed to what she called the perverse incentives that reward substandard care instead of improvements in care.
  • Some payers, including Medicare, have begun refusing to pay for certain surgical errors, such as leaving a sponge or instrument inside a patient (which is, in fact, one of the most common causes of medical malpractice actions).

Most importantly, the researchers emphasize they are not suggesting that hospitals intentionally give poor care in order to make more money — only that something in the health care system desperately needs to change.

If you suffered a preventable or reasonably foreseeable injury at a hospital, you may be able to seek reimbursement for your expenses and losses by filing a lawsuit. Consult a Baltimore malpractice lawyer at Leviness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. as soon as possible.