In most businesses, customers don’t pay for a vendor’s mistakes. But when hospitals make errors, they charge patients additional money to fix the problem.
The perverse economics of hospital charges were outlined yesterday in a fascinating article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The story focused on one common but largely preventable medical error: urinary tract infections associated with the use of a catheter. It showed how in some ways, the medical system has built-in financial incentives for bad care.
Hospitals use urinary catheters more than almost any other medical device, and they account for 40 percent of all hospital-acquired infections — about one million annually. A urinary tract infection can add a day to a hospital stay; sometimes it can lead to a more serious infection, even death.
-Making Hospitals Pay for Their Mistakes