Investment can lead to innovation. An influx of funds from investors to allow focus on research and expand offerings is generally a good thing, but what happens when those behind the investment are focused on the bottom line and not on innovation? What happens when the target investment is healthcare?
These are relevant questions in today’s healthcare system. Private equity firms have targeted hospitals and private practices for investment, with a profit motivation These firms argue that the investment allows for beneficial growth, but critics voice concern that the focus on finances is bad for patient care.
What could go wrong?
Although private equity firms have been investing in healthcare for years, we are just starting to get some data on how the role of these companies within healthcare impacts patient care. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) digs into this data. Researchers with the study reviewed data from millions of patients over a span of ten years and found that those who received treatment at private equity-acquired hospitals experienced a 25.4% increase in adverse events.
These events include falls and infections as well as an increased length of stay and need for readmission. More specifically, researchers broke down the issues as follows:
- Falls. Patients were 27.3% more likely to suffer injury from a fall at a hospital acquired by a private equity firm compared to the rate of falls at those not owned by a private-equity firm.
- Infections. The rate of a bloodstream infection associated with use of a central line increased by 37.7%. Infections at surgical sites doubled.
- Transfers. The researchers note that mortality rates went down at private equity acquired facilities. The researchers explain that this is likely the result of two factors. First, private equity-acquired facilities were more likely to transfer patients. Second, private equity acquired hospitals also reported an increase in treatment of younger patients.
Those opposed to the presence of private equity firms within the healthcare marketplace argue that investing in healthcare with the intent to turn a short-term profit is too aggressive and has a negative impact on patient care, as highlighted with data discussed above.
What about the patients?
Patients injured as a result of poor medical care can hold the responsible parties legally and financially accountable. This is true whether the patient can establish the failure was financially motivated or not. Injured patients have legal recourse when these professionals fail to meet this standard, and this failure results in injury. An attorney experienced in this area of personal injury can review your situation and discuss your options.