Early research points to an association between a higher risk of mortality after surgery and a lower social economic background. However, a new study confirms that it may not be the lower social economic background of the patient that is to blame for the higher risk of fatality after surgery. Rather, it is the risk that comes from having a surgery conducted in a hospital that caters to poor patients.
The research was conducted by the investigators at the Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy at the University Of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The researchers analyzed more than 500,000 cases of patients who underwent several cancer surgeries including gastrectomy, pancreatectomy, colectomy, cystectomy, and other cancer surgeries between 2003 and 2007. All of these procedures were conducted at hospitals that served a patient base made up largely from a lower socioeconomic demographic.
The researchers found that patients from a poor background were much more likely to have a bad event (26.7%), compared to richer patients (23.2%). However, a closer look at the analysis shows that overall, the risks of post-surgical fatality were high for all patients regardless of their economic status, when the surgeries were performed at hospitals that had large number of poor patients.
Basically, hospitals that serve a larger number of poorer patients report higher mortality rates post-surgery, compared to hospitals that catered to wealthier patients. Interestingly enough, even rich patients who underwent surgery at these hospitals had a higher rate of bad events. In fact, it is fair to conclude that the higher mortality risk after surgery may not have much to do with the poor financial condition of the patient, but rather with the poor quality of care delivered at these hospitals.
It is an uncomfortable truth that hospitals that provide care to largely poor patient populations do not possibly maintain expected levels of quality and care, as hospitals that serve a wealthy section of society. The researchers believe that the staff attitudes of hospitals that cater to poor patients could be to blame for this higher mortality rate.
The study results force us to reconsider the belief that higher rates of mortality after surgery are due to an increased number of complications. There may be other factors at work here, including the kind of quality and care that the hospital provides its patients in an effort to prevent complications. Furthermore, the researchers point out that it may not be necessarily the complications alone that contribute to the high fatality rates, but the failure to identify and treat complications in time at hospitals that cater to more poor patients.
The Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent persons who have suffered injuries as a result of medical negligence by doctors, nurses and other medical personnel at hospitals across Indiana. If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of medical negligence at a medical facility in Indiana, speak with an attorney at our firm.