Deluxe treatment for the rich and famous hurts patients--and hospitals

Hospitals that use resources to provide VIP treatment for a select few patients create more harm than good, a doctor argues in an opinion piece for The New York Times.

Although there's probably no direct harm to patients who aren't among the select few who receive VIP treatment such as deluxe rooms and better food, they also aren't able to benefit from amenities like nice window views or more sunlight that help patients recover more quickly and use less pain medication, Shoa L. Clark, M.D., a resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Boston Children's Hospital, contends in the piece.

Some hospitals acknowledge that they treat VIP patients more quickly in the emergency department, Clark writes. But it calls into question what that means for patients who aren't attended to as quickly.

He also suggests that VIPs may receive worse care because doctors feel pressured to order unnecessary tests or prescribe medicine that probably won't work.

The bottom line, he says: "When I allow one of my patients to be labeled 'important,' do I implicitly label the others as less important?"

Some nurses seem to think so. Author Alexandra Robbins recently detailed complaints by nurses about the five-star treatment their celebrity and VIP patients receive, including larger rooms, big-screen TVs and better food--often on separate floors, FierceHealthcare previously reported. One complained that the sickest patients were often moved farther from the nursing station in favor of less-critical VIP patients.

While Clark notes that VIPs receive concierge-level care at many of the nation's top hospitals, the trend toward deluxe amenities isn't limited to the rich and powerful. Some critics question whether high-end hospital accommodations and amenities are adding unneeded costs while focusing more on hospitality than on healthcare in an effort to improve patient satisfaction scores.

To learn more information:
- here's the opinion piece