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Does the type of health insurance impact surgical care?

A doctor’s duty of care should not be affected by the type of health care insurance or benefits that a patient has. Yet according to a recent study, Medicaid surgical patients may fare worse than other surgery patients.

Specifically, the Medicaid patients experienced complications at two-thirds the rate of privately insured patients, and were twice more likely to die after surgery. They also required longer hospital stays and received more emergency operations. Notably, the study was fairly extensive, involving almost 14,000 surgical patients at 52 different hospitals in one American state.

That’s troubling news for perhaps as many as several million individuals who were previously uninsured, but may now qualify under the Affordable Care Act for Medicaid coverage. However, researchers did acknowledge other factors that might have affected the study results, such as smoking and conditions that could complicate surgical procedures, such as lung disease, blocked vessels and diabetes.

Yet a medical malpractice attorney might question whether there could also be a financial connection, as hospitals might not be reimbursed for the full cost of treatments provided to Medicaid patients. If a patient was the victim of a surgical error, an attorney can investigate the full record, beginning with any pre-operative care provided to the patient.

Although many surgical procedures carry some inherent risk, the actions of doctors and hospital staff can also greatly impact a patient’s chances at recuperation. Perhaps a circumstance arose on the operating table that gave rise to a faulty surgical performance. An attorney can look for such evidence of medical negligence.

Source: The New York Times, “Poorer Health of Surgery Patients on Medicaid May Alter Law’s Bottom Line,” Robert Pear, May 17, 2014

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