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Perverse incentives for hospital profits

ID-10019319 hospital bed
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If you want to know one reason why our health care system is so screwed up, please read this article. It explains how hospitals often make more money when complications arise during surgery.

Patients who suffer complications after surgery are lucrative for hospitals, which get paid more when they treat infections and other problems, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today.

In 2010, an unnamed, nonprofit 12-hospital chain in the southern U.S. was paid an average of $49,400 per person for treating surgery patients who have complications — more than double the $18,900 paid for patients who underwent only the initial surgery, according to an analysis by researchers from Harvard Medical School and elsewhere.

Read the entire article for details on this problem. We need to alter these incentives and pay for health care that actually works. Incompetence and mistakes should not be rewarded.

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Obesity takes a huge financial toll on the nation.

Chronic illnesses caused by obesity are crippling our healthcare system.

How can we turn this around?

Exhaustive Medical Screening Yields Comparatively Few Benefits

The idea that getting a battery of medical tests to rule out all types of cancer is not only ineffective but can cause harm.

Certainly, the rationale behind screening seems obvious. The earlier cancers are diagnosed, the more often lives will be saved, right? With enough screening, we might even stop cancer.

If only. Finding cancer early isn’t enough. To reduce cancer deaths, treatment must work, yet it doesn’t always. Second, it must work better when started earlier. But for some cancers, later treatment works as well. (That’s why there is no big push for testicular cancer screening — it is usually curable at any stage.)

And some of the worst cancers aren’t detected by screening. They appear suddenly, between regular screenings, and are difficult to treat because they are so aggressive.

Biopsy, exploratory surgery , radiation and chemotherapy as the result of positive or abnormal results from screening, pose dangers and have side affects of their own to be seriously considered.

Doctors Recognize The Need To Test Less

Doctors urge their colleagues to perform less tests.

When you consider that the majority of insurance dollars are spent in the last 6 months of a patient’s life we have to consider if this is money well spent.

This goes for testing, as well.

The Choosing Wisely project was launched last year by the foundation of the American Board of Internal Medicine. It recruited nine medical specialty societies representing more than 376,000 physicians to come up with five common tests or procedures “whose necessity … should be questioned and discussed.”

The groups represent family physicians, cardiologists, radiologists, gastroenterologists, oncologists, kidney specialists and specialists in allergy, asthma and immunology and nuclear cardiology.

Emergency Rooms Across The Country Being Used For Dental Visits

Seeking primary dental care in the ER is a new phenomenon facing medicine today.

Lack of access in rural areas, and little or no emphasis on preventive care have contributed to a gross misuse of medical resources.

Too few dentist participating in Medicaid has also contributed to the problem.

Using emergency rooms for dental treatment “is incredibly expensive and incredibly inefficient,” said Dr. Frank Catalanotto, a professor at the University of Florida’s College of Dentistry who reviewed the report.
Preventive dental care such as routine teeth cleaning can cost $50 to $100, versus $1,000 for emergency room treatment that may include painkillers for aching cavities and antibiotics from resulting infections, Catalanotto said.

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