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Profits Over Patients At Root of Many Preventable Medical Errors

A succinct answer to questions about the cause of the majority of preventable medical errors might look something like this: profits over patients.

The Las Vegas Sun has conducted published stories on its on-going investigative series looking specifically into the depth of medical mistakes and the reasons that they continue to strike by the hundreds of thousands across the country. Perhaps the most dominant theme in the analysis is the corporate push for profits that all too often trumps the needs of the patient. It is in that atmosphere that risky shortcuts are taken (even encouraged) leading to the errors.

As the investigation uncovered, problems often present themselves most vividly when medical care is offered as a product of market forces. In that way, care is dictated by entrepreneurship, competition, and the maximization of the bottom line. The paper explains that this does not create a “hospital system” but instead an “industry.”

Like any other industry, for-profit hospitals chains are responsible first and foremost to their shareholders. The shareholders are investors specifically interested in watching their money grow. It is no surprise then that many hospitals have watched as profit margins have topped 25% at different high-water marks.

One of many problems associated with for-profit hospitals are the inadequate staffing levels. In many cases, a single nursing assistant is charged with caring for 26 patients at any one time-an unreasonable burden that leads to sacrificing individual care. Many problems, like bedsores, are almost exclusively related to inadequate attention paid by medical staff to individual patients.

Our Chicago malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti have been involved in litigation for decades related to errors caused by staff members who were overworked because staffing levels were too low. The quest for profits at many facilities has effects that ripple throughout the organization with far too many patients becoming victims as a result.

There is much more to this story. This article represents a continuing series exploring the ways in which hospital sacrifice patient care for profits. Please Click Here to explore this topic in more detail.

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