As patients and consumers, we see hospitals as places whose primary job is to help us get well. Hospitals, however, are still businesses, and for every doctor or nurse who genuinely cares about us, there is an administrator somewhere looking at the bottom line. A recent article on Cincinnati.com reports that Cincinnati’s hospitals experienced a “surge in net income” in 2014 – a combined $645.1 million throughout Greater Cincinnati.
Admittedly, a large percentage of this income is derived from investments and grants, as well as philanthropic efforts on behalf of others, but the problem we have is not really with the amount of money the hospitals have made. It is with the fact that a large portion of the money has gone to increasing the capacity of the hospitals even though attendance is dropping. It is not that fewer people need hospitals; it is that the amount of time patients are allowed to stay is decreasing. According to independent market analyst Allan Baumgarten’s “Ohio Health Market Review,” occupancy levels are lower now than they were in 2008.
Why all the expansion?
So why keep building and acquiring facilities if patients are being forced into shorter stays? It could be related to the increase in Medicare and Medicaid subscribers throughout Ohio. It works like this: the government funds the costs of in-patient stays for Medicare subscribers, and contributes to the cost for Medicaid subscribers. With more people enrolling, the hospitals have a valid claim to increase the size of their facilities. However, because no hospital is going to pick up the cost of an overnight stay once the government stops paying for it, those patients are forced out, too. In the end, it looks like you need more space – and can then justify that expense – even though your occupancy levels are lower now than ever.
No one wants to stay in the hospital longer than they need to, but shortening hospital stays can lead to a slew of problems. Unfortunately, the longer stays that so many patients need are now astronomically high (more than $2500 a night in Ohio, and that was back in 2010; the prices have almost certainly risen since then) that people are forced to leave. We believe that every patient’s need for care trumps the needs of big business.
At Crandall & Pera Law, we fight on behalf of people whose lives have changed irreparably because of poor care or negligence. If you or your loved one was released too early from a hospital and suffered a preventable injury or illness because of it, we may be able to help. Please contact us to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Ohio or Kentucky.