Recession has had a negative impact on hospital safety, quality

Now more than ever is the time to monitor both care and financial quality of hospitals across the U.S., urge researchers from the University of Michigan Health System and St. Joseph Mercy Health System who say that hospital safety is being compromised because of the current recession. What makes this situation unique, according to an analysis published in the May/June issue of the Journal of Hospital Medicine, is that in the past, hospitals have always been considered "recession proof." 

"We were surprised by how well hospitals have done during recessions in the last several decades and how, despite the economy in the last 12 months, relatively few hospitals are closing down," said Jeremy Sussman, MD, the study's lead author and an internal medicine physician at the University of Michigan Health System. "Instead, hospitals seem to be dealing with the economic crisis by reducing staff, scaling back or completely stopping new construction projects and implementing various efforts to improve efficiencies of care." 

The authors caution, though, that those cutbacks are the direct result of Americans losing health insurance due to job losses, and that [the cutbacks] ultimately risk quality and safety of delivery. 

"Understaffed and under financed hospitals are rarely safe," the analysis reads, according to an article on AnnArbor.com

The analysis found that more than half of hospitals throughout the U.S. reported negative margins at the end of 2008, caused by drops in "nearly every potential stream of income," from reimbursement rates and admissions to charitable donations and the ability to obtain bonds. 

To learn more:
- check out this article from the UMHS newsroom
- read this AnnArbor.com piece
- here's the abstract of the analysis

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