According to the New York Times, “safety net hospitals” (the term for hospitals that admit patients who do not have medical insurance or cannot pay for medical care) are not a drag on the system as once thought.
The report summarizesnew research, saying:
Researchers analyzed the outcomes and readmission rates of patients who were admitted to safety-net hospitals in almost 150 cities with one of three common — and potentially devastating — diagnoses and compared them with similar patients who were cared for at hospitals with significantly fewer uninsured or disadvantaged patients. They found that for patients with pneumonia, heart failure or a heart attack, there were negligible differences in the quality of care received, with some safety-net hospitals actually achieving better results.
Our Perspective: As the article goes on to mention, there are lingering questions here in spite of the encouraging findings. And how will the Affordable Car Act impact safety net hospitals? However, one thing is certain: this is a win for research on quality of care. And any step forward on improving the ways in which hospitals are evaluated is a step closer to a more comprehensive system that can unlock the keys on such issues as eliminating waste. It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the wake of these findings.