Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Penn Medicine Discovers that Hospitals may Raise Costs with Unnecessary Staff

My commentary on the article: I'm very glad that this study was done, because it reveals some of the factors that may potentially drive up medical costs.  This may not just be limited to hospital staff, but also for treatment.  I was just reading that many senior citizens are on more medications than are necessary, and unfortunately, it is very difficult to tell which ones should be eliminated.  Once, I even heard a story that a doctor prescribed an elderly man some medication after a he complained his memory was going.  However, as it turns out, the guy barely had any memory issues at all.  Perhaps by taking a closer look at the patient's medical history, this can be avoided.  As for the staff, it would be interesting to see research done on the hospital administration (though I admit this is not a medical study).  I know that in colleges, the administration is probably the major factor that drives up the price.  Could this be the same in healthcare?  And how will hospitals respond to this information?  Feel free to comment.


Penn Medicine Study Raises Questions About Added Costs and Physician Resources

Media Contact:Steve Graff | stephen.graff@uphs.upenn.edu | 215-349-5653May 20, 2013
With little evidence to guide them, many hospital intensive care units (ICUs) have been employing critical care physicians at night with the notion it would improve patients’ outcomes. However, new results from a one-year randomized trial from researchers at Penn Medicine involving nearly 1,600 patients admitted to the Hospital of the University Pennsylvania (HUP) Medical ICU suggest otherwise: Having a nighttime intensivist had no clear benefit on length of stay or mortality for these patients, not even patients admitted at night or those with the most critical illnesses at the time of admission.
The research was presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Philadelphia May 20 by senior study author Scott D. Halpern, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Medical Ethics and Health Policy, and published online the same day in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The findings raise a pertinent question in today's financially-conscious healthcare setting: Why invest financial resources to staff a nighttime intensivist if it’s not improving patient outcomes?
“This is an important finding that affects a lot of stakeholders,” said first author Meeta Prasad Kerlin, MD, MSCE, an assistant professor of Medicine in the division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Staffing an intensivist at night is probably quite costly, because the total billing will likely be at a higher rate, which could trickle down to the insurance provider or patient.  There’s also the operating cost associated with staffing that impacts hospitals.”

From: http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/news/penn-medicine-study-raises-questions-about-added-costs-and-physician-resources

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