How Hospitals Make Enormous Profits from Botched Surgeries


A study published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association said that botched surgeries bring in more money for hospitals than successful surgeries.

The study found that hospitals bill insurance companies for more money to cover surgical complications, reports the Washington Post.

Patients who have private insurance and experience a bad surgery can bring hospitals 330 percent more money than the same private insurance patients whose surgery is successful.

This cash cow isn't limited to private insurance.

Elderly and disabled patients under Medicare bring hospitals a 190 percent higher profit when their surgeries are botched, reports

The study estimated that insurance companies and the federal government spend $400 billion on surgeries every year. It did not suggest that hospitals are intentionally injuring patients, but many are failing to take safety precautions.

“It’s been known that hospitals are not rewarded for quality,” said study co-author and Harvard School of Public Health director Atul Gawande. “But it hadn’t been recognized exactly how much more money they make when harm is done."

“This is a clear indication that health care payment reform is necessary. Hospitals should gain, not lose, financially from reducing harm.”

Study co-author Sunil Eappen, chief medical officer of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, added: “We found clear evidence that reducing harm and improving quality is perversely penalized in our current health care system.”

The study was based on the medical records of 34,256 patients who had surgery in 2010 at one of 12 hospitals in the U.S.

Sources: Washington Post and


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