When the person making a mistake is your surgeon, the consequences can be dire. Lives can be lost, futures can be changed, — and in many cases, a whole lot of money will be spent. But where does it come from? Here's what you should know about surgical errors and how they may be driving your health insurance costs.
How Often Do Surgeons Make Mistakes?
Obviously, most surgeons didn't get where they are by a stroke of luck. Most are well-trained, competent individuals who are always trying to do their best. Still, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Surgeons will sometimes leave medical instruments in the patient during the procedure or even perform the wrong operation entirely. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. One study found over 80,000 incidents of serious surgical error between 1990 and 2010, and that's likely underestimating things. The question now becomes: what happens when surgeons make these mistakes? Who ends up footing the bill?
Correcting These Mistakes Is Costly
Everyone knows these mistakes happen and when they do they can be very costly. That's why hospitals often have malpractice insurance. So the answer to the question of who pays for these mistakes is often the insurance company. It isn't always so simple though. Sometimes these mistakes go unnoticed or simply don't qualify as malpractice for one reason or another. In cases like these, the buck can get passed to the patient.
How This Impacts Employers
When the victim of a surgical error is one of your employees on your group health insurance plan, the cost of this error often makes its way back to you. They may need another surgical procedure to correct the first mistake. They may come down with conditions that require lifelong treatment. There are numerous examples of surgical errors haunting patients for the rest of their lives.
You would think that medical professionals would have to pay for further procedures to correct mistakes they make. The truth is that unless you're willing to bring a malpractice lawsuit against the surgeon — which can be expensive, time-consuming, and is often not worth the effort — then they are not always required to pay. The cost of measurable medical errors is estimated to exceed $17 billion per year, so this is no small problem and unfortunately, there's no easy solution.
It's important to cut healthcare costs where you can so the problems out of your control are more manageable. You can't stop a surgeon from making an error, but you can make smart decisions when it comes to the health insurance you provide your employees. For more information about providing affordable benefits that are also satisfying for your employees, please contact us today.