Medicaid Brain Tumor Patients have Worse Outcomes than Private Insurance Counterparts By Tod Aronovitz | 03/16/15 | 0 Comment

A recent study by the University of Florida’s Department of Neurological Surgery in Gainesville has uncovered some unsettling findings for Medicaid patients who have brain tumors, notes Miami medical malpractice lawyer Tod Aronovitz.

Researchers looked at nationwide data from 566,346 hospital admissions involving brain tumor cases during the period between 2002 through 2011. They discovered patients with private insurance fared much better across the board than patients on Medicaid or who were uninsured.

An article in the January issue of Neurosurgery (the official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons) reported that brain tumor patients on Medicaid or with no insurance were:

  • More likely to stay hospitalized longer
  • Likely to develop additional medical complications
  • 25 percent more likely to die during their hospital stay
  • More likely to end up in a nursing home, rehabilitation center or hospice

If a patient suspects that malpractice may have taken place, Florida medical malpractice attorney Aronovitz reminds patients and their families that there is a Statute of Limitations which applies to medical malpractice cases in Florida. A Statute of Limitations provides a period of time in which a lawsuit must be filed.

Researchers believe there are several reasons for the reported disparity in brain tumor outcomes. Compared to those with private insurance, people on Medicaid or who are uninsured typically:

  • Are less likely to benefit from early detection because they have less access to health care
  • Are likely to wait and then go to an ER when symptoms are severe
  • Are farther along with their condition by the time they are hospitalized, affecting their medical prognosis

“It’s both an access-to-care and a quality-of-care issue before patients are admitted. (Uninsured or Medicaid patients) come in when their brain tumors are more advanced,” says Kristopher G. Hooten, a resident in the University of Florida’s department of neurosurgery program and lead author of the study.

There are also differences once patients are hospitalized. Medicaid patients were:

  • More prone to certain kinds of infections, postoperative respiratory issues, and problems with blood sugar control
  • More at risk for “hospital-acquired conditions,” like pressure ulcers and vascular catheter infections
  • Almost twice as likely to have blood sugar problems

According to researchers, these results are not because hospitals treat individual patients differently based on their insurance, but that the patients themselves may be more likely to have a broader set of medical problems. They believe the study’s findings could be used to benefit patients by identifying medical conditions that put them at greater risk.

The findings also show how a federal agency’s current method of comparing hospitals’ quality could benefit from a more level playing field. According to senior author Maryam Rahman, assistant professor of neurosurgery, hospitals that care for higher-risk Medicaid and uninsured patients should be judged differently than those that have more privately insured patients and treat a low-risk population.

The findings could be helpful when implementing health care policy and to improve disparities in medical care, Rahman says. “This type of research is important from a global standpoint to understand what goes into quality assessment, how hospitals are ranked based on quality and which patients are potentially high-risk. The true benefit is identifying areas of improvement and making things better for patients,” she concluded.

ARONOVITZ LAW: Miami Medical Malpractice Lawyers

The Miami medical malpractice attorneys at ARONOVITZ LAW pursue justice for Florida citizens who have been injured by the wrongful actions or omissions of another individual, government agency, or corporation. We can assist you with civil litigation including consumer class action litigation, whistleblower cases, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death cases.

Contact Miami, Florida medical malpractice attorney Tod Aronovitz for a confidential discussion of your case.