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Is the current recession compromising hospital quality?
Date:6/10/2010

ANN ARBOR, Mich. During past recessions, the financial stability of hospitals seemed to be nearly indestructible. But researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and St. Joseph Mercy Health System say the current national economic crisis may be an exception.

Hospitals are reporting declining profits, likely as a result of Americans losing health insurance as they lose jobs. As a result, hospital plans for renovation and new construction are being scrapped, and hospitals are being forced to reduce hospital staff, according to an analysis in the just-released May/June issue of the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

The researchers speculate hospital cutbacks may risk the quality and safety of health care delivery, and urge the federal government to improve public awareness of overcrowding emergency services, nurse-to-patient ratios and use of information technology.

"In uncertain economic times, it's especially important to have certainty that hospitals are doing things safely. But as hospitals reduce staff and make other changes to make ends meet, we don't necessarily have that certainty. That's why it's as important as ever to not only measure the quality of hospital care, but also understand the systems that do deliver consistent, cost-effective and high quality care." says lead author Jeremy Sussman, M.D., M.S., an internal medicine physician and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation clinical scholar at the University of Michigan Health System.

During this recession, every source of income for hospitals is at risk. Almost three-fourths report receiving less reimbursement from insurance payers per discharge and over half report a decrease in patient admissions, according to the American Hospital Association's report, "The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Health Services for Patients and Communities." In addition, more than half of hospitals report difficulty obtaining bonds an important source for paying for new co
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Contact: Jenna Frye
jennafry@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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