New research says U.S. hospitals in trouble

These are among the grimmest times in recent memory for U.S. hospital finances, according new research set to be released today from Thomson Reuters. 

The Thomson Reuters analysis concludes that about 50 percent of U.S. hospitals are losing money, and that total margins for U.S. hospitals declined last year. The worst-performing hospitals had margins of negative-7 percent, while the best performing hospitals' margins topped 4.5 percent.

According to the research the hospitals' financial predicament was originally driven by investment losses, which began to mount in late 2007 and continued to speed up through mid-2008. Margins on operations were consistent through about the third quarter of 2008.

However, it's unlikely operating margins will remain stable. Forty-four percent of hospitals have seen declines in surgeries, with hip procedures showing the steepest drop-off of 45 percent, according to another survey.

Given these projected losses, 47 percent of hospitals expect to make staff cuts, and 69 percent plan to cancel or delay equipment purchases, according to a survey by Novation.

To learn more about hospital profits:
- read this Los Angeles Times article

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