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Hospitals that benefit from their mistakes

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Hospitals have been in the news for getting it wrong-but in the States, where the healthcare system is driven by insurance companies, hospitals actually make more money when they make mistakes.
An extended and unexpected stay in hospital from a preventable infection, for example, goes right to the hospital’s bottom line, say researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
This extra care costs around three times more than a standard stay where the patient didn’t contract a hospital infection. In fact, insurers often get presented with a $400,000 bill for treating the patient. Hospitals are profiting from these complications-even though they are of their own making.
Worse, efficient and well-run hospitals that keep infection levels to the minimum are losing out. The infections-known as CLABSIs, or central line-associated blood stream infections-happen when plastic tubes used to administer fluids or obtain blood become infected. Around 80,000 patients in the US suffer a CLABSI infection every year, and around 28,000 of them die, which is similar to the death rate in the US from breast cancer. Aside from the enormous human cost, the cost to the insurance industry runs to around $3bn a year.
(Source: American Journal of Medical Quality, 2013; doi: 10.1177/1062860613482964).

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