I have a good friend whose grandfather was recently hospitalized. He’s 90 years old, was dehydrated after having the flu—a very common occurrence—and ended up going into atrial fibrillation (AFib).
AFib is a fancy term for an abnormal heart rhythm—and it can be very dangerous. His heart rate was elevated, so the hospital pumped him full of multiple heavy-duty medications, IV fluids, and antibiotics.
One thing stood out to me immediately—I didn’t see the need for antibiotics. But it seems like anyone who walks into a hospital is placed on them as a precaution. So you can see why we have so many kinds of drug-resistant bacteria these days.
But it gets worse. Because the treating physicians decided they wanted to do a coronary angiogram “just to be sure.” (Yes, a $250,000 procedure “just to be sure.”)
I should also mention that by this time, his heart rate was back to normal—yet they kept him on a very toxic medication—despite the availability of cheaper, safer drugs.
And before leaving the hospital, one of his many scans revealed a gall stone. So, of course, they wanted to remove his gall bladder. Mind you, the man didn’t have any symptoms from the gall stone. Yet they wanted to perform another $350,000 procedure. (Probably also “just to be sure.”)
Thankfully he walked out of that hospital and is now home—receiving safer, nonsurgical therapies that aren’t draining his pockets.
Raking in the dough
I tell this story to paint an unfortunately common picture. In fact, I recently came across survey results indicating that the average amount of revenue that doctors generate for hospitals has skyrocketed since 2016.
And scenarios like this, my friends, are precisely the reason—unnecessary tests and procedures, ordered simply so the doctor can rake in the dough for the hospital. Because as you and I both know, it’s not really about getting the patient well. It’s about how much money they can generate in the process.
It’s absurd and preposterous. But it occurs across the nation every single minute of every single day. Because most people—unlike my friend’s grandfather—don’t have “someone in the business” they can turn to for advice.
Anyway, back to the survey: It focused specifically on inpatient and outpatient revenue, from top to bottom—based on admissions, tests, treatments and procedures, either performed or ordered by physicians.
And get this: Results showed that doctors generate nearly $2.4 million per year on average for the hospitals that employ them. Yes… that figure is per doctor. And it’s more than a 50 percent increase from the already staggering $1.5 million they were generating in 2016.
Stay off the hamster wheel
This survey looked at 18 different specialists, and here’s what it found: Full-time heart surgeons are the most profitable, ringing up nearly $3.7 million annually for their hospitals. Closely followed by invasive cardiologists, neurosurgeons, and orthopedic surgeons—at $3.5 million, $3.4 million, and $3.3 million, respectively.
Even family physicians and general internists churned out annual revenue averaging $2.1 million and $2.7 million, respectively. And ultimately, even this is a serious payday for the hospital, because the specialists themselves only see about one-sixth of these totals in their pockets.
I realize that’s still a hefty paycheck. But I’m not here to complain about how much money doctors make—physicians have your life in their hands, so it’s a far cry from Wall Street or Hollywood.
I simply want to point out—as illustrated by the ridiculous experience that my friend’s grandfather had—that more and more physicians are now at the mercy of the hospitals they work for. And as their employees, it’s no wonder needless tests and procedures have escalated—especially as our population continues to age.
Be aware and be cautious. Never blindly follow “doctor’s orders” without asking questions first. Second opinions are always worth getting—not just to protect your wallet from unnecessary financial burden, but because every test and procedure sets off a domino effect of interventions that can be hard to stop.
That’s less likely to happen if you know what you’re walking into.
That’s why I’ll continue to confront the modern day obsession with drugs and surgeries, and bring you cutting-edge research and natural approaches to healing in my Reality Health Check and Logical Health Alternatives newsletter.
“Physicians Keep Increasing Revenue for Hospitals.” Medscape Medical News, 02/27/2019. (medscape.com/viewarticle/909657)