As Hoosiers, we want to believe that when we and our loved ones should need it, we will receive safe, quality healthcare. However, many may not know that Indiana holds the dubious distinction of ranking among the worst states in the U.S. in terms of overall healthcare quality and patient safety. This unfortunate finding was reported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (“AHRQ”), which works with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 1
While care in Indiana as a whole ranks very poorly, there are of course qualified and caring healthcare providers in Indiana, many of whom are likely as disturbed by these findings as you may be. Unfortunately, the evidence shows there are also too many Indiana hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare providers that fail to make patient safety and quality care the priority that it should be.
Providing health care is big business in Indiana. Each year, Hoosier hospitals and other healthcare providers collectively charge more than 43 billion dollars ($43,000,000,000) for their services. Too often lacking, however, is a means of accountability to ensure the health care purchased is in compliance with basic, accepted standards of care to ensure patient safety. Without adequate accountability, there is no meaningful financial incentive for healthcare providers to ensure safe care.
Aside from the obvious harm to the patient, this lack of accountability for those that provide substandard care harms those healthcare providers that do things properly. Hospitals and health care providers that may take the proper steps to ensure patient safety are forced to compete with those health care providers that choose to cut corners in safety and pad their bottom lines.
Currently, Indiana laws too often shield and protect those nursing homes, hospitals and healthcare providers that choose profits over patients safety. These laws allow, if not encourage, the offending hospitals and healthcare providers to unfairly compete with those that follow accepted standards of care.
Victims of tragic medical errors and their families are often surprised to learn of the difficulty in finding answers and accountability under Indiana law in cases involving clear medical malpractice and negligence. In a series of short articles to be published over the next few days, we will highlight some of the reasons Indiana serves as a haven for substandard health care that puts patients at unnecessary risk of harm.