The True Cost of Surgery in the Hospital

The True Cost of Surgery in the Hospital

For many Americans suffering from chronic neck or back pain, especially in the rural Midwest states, or those far outside of the big cities where medical innovation happens, major medical centers are often the only choice when it comes to searching for treatment.

For those people, the hospital may seem like the only option, and also sometimes the best option. Hospitals have been dramatized by television and movies and as a result may seem like the beating heart of healthcare in the United States. But the reality is that as new laws are passed, and new insurance contracts are sealed, major medical centers are beginning to die out.

In the new value-focused society of today, hospitals are facing choosy patients, paltry reimbursement rates, and tough negotiations when it comes to deciding what expense will actually be worth it. This means that on the consumer end, you are the ones that suffer. Hospital equipment is aging and outdated, the doctors are overworked and understaffed, and responsibilities are being delegated to nurses and physician assistants with less training and less experience. Not to mention the issues Covid-19 exposed in the hospital infrastructure, layout, and operations.

As a result, no two surgeries can be expected to be exactly alike. On paper a spinal fusion is a spinal fusion, but the long-term results are ultimately decided by the skill of the surgeon and the quality of his operating room, equipment, implants, and staff. In the hospital these are all factors that are controlled by the almighty dollar, and in most cases cost will win over utility. The sticker price of your surgery, whether it is $4,000 or $40,000 will not be the only cost that you will likely incur when undergoing treatment at a major medical center.

According to the Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality “surgical site infections occur in 2% to 4% of all patients undergoing inpatient surgical procedures. SSIs remain a significant cause of morbidity and mortality after surgery. They are the leading cause of readmissions to the hospital following surgery, and approximately 3% of patients who contract an SSI will die as a consequence.” And with over ten million patients undergoing inpatient spinal surgery per year, that is over 300,000 preventable infections and over 9000 needless deaths caused by inpatient surgery every year.

This is the true cost of surgery done in the hospital. Complications caused by improper surgical technique, improper anesthesia, or improper post-operative care. Most hospitals accept that complications are a normal part of surgery, and that some percentage of death is unavoidable. However many healthcare experts believe that this is not the case, and that to permit even a 1% mortality rate is unacceptable.

That is why, to combat the epidemic of bad medicine, many of the nations most renowned surgeons are opening outpatient surgery centers with which they can staff with the best nurses, stock with the highest quality medicines, and equip with the newest and most innovative technology in their specific field.

A study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery comparing readmission rates and complication rates for surgeries done inpatient at a hospital vs. outpatient as an ambulatory surgical center concluded that out of the 2000-patient cohort, 44.3% of inpatient stays resulted in readmission due to complications with anemia, infection, and blood clots, whereas only 12% of patients whose surgery was done outpatient at an ambulatory facility had post-operative difficulties.

It is important to choose your surgery and your facility wisely. The growing trend in healthcare is to cater to consumer demands, so at this very moment you as a patient have a lot of power over the changes that happen in healthcare. By demanding the best treatment and not accepting that you may end up as another ‘unavoidable’ statistic in a hospital’s records, you can change what is normal. The Deuk Spine Institute is fighting to make 0% complication rate, 0% infection rate, and 95% success rates in treating pre-operative symptoms the new normal. You can help us with this fight. Visit if you’d like to speak with the neurosurgeon and discover what options there are for you.

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