CBS News - "Does Profit Motive Explain High Rates of End-of-Life Surgery?"
New research shows that many elderly patients get surgery at the end of life - and some are saying the operations are being performed not because the patients want or need them, but because the surgeons and hospitals are financially motivated to do surgery. For the study, researchers analyzed data from nearly two million Medicare patients, aged 65 and older, all of whom who died in 2008. The researchers found nearly one in five of them underwent surgery in their last month of life, with one out of 10 undergoing a procedure in the week before they died. In an editorial that accompanied the study, Dr. Amy Kelley, an assistant professor of geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said that money is a motivator, because Medicare is guaranteed to pay for these procedures, regardless of whether the patient wants it or not. "Policymakers must align incentives for insurance plans, health-care institutions, and providers with individual patient goals," Dr. Kelley said.
- Dr. Amy Kelley, Assistant Professor, Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine