Now I know the question seems counter intuitive. Does the medical industry profit from death? Sadly the answer is yes, in many cases, and actually more so in Florida than other states.
Staggering new statistics were recently released reveal that 10% of deaths in the United States are caused by medical error, in spite of the fact that death may be listed under another cause on the death certificate. *see related article: Medical error is not included on death certificates. Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US.
In the Sunshine state, if a medical facility or provider commits a harmful error, and the patient lives, accountability may follow. If the patient dies, and they are considered a "Free Kill" no family representative may hold the culprit accountable. Therein lies a powerful cost savings for medical practitioners, indeed an encouragement to not save the patient.
FMRA advocated in Florida legislation last year to have Florida Statue 768.21(8) removed, so that families can hold hospitals and doctors accountable in the face of wrongful death. Civil Justice Committee leader Bob Rommel however, told several advocates that death by medical error is "not something that happens to many people." (Only 10% right Bob?) He also stated that as long as he is on Florida's Civil Justice Committee he will "Never let this (a rescind of Florida's Free Kill law) pass." Which basically means he believes that he controls the vote and intends to keep doing so.
So where does the profit come in?
Well, in Bob's case, his biggest supporters are the Medical Malpractice lobbying teams. They are on his list of campaign contributors, which means they pay him. Unfortunately our political system allows this. Med Mal firms don't want to allow the people to hold doctors and hospitals accountable for errors that kill, so they don't have to pay out claims. With Bob in their corner, they are safe for now in Florida, but lets face it, he won't be in this position forever. Hopefully, next term, we the people can vote someone in that looks out for the people instead of lining their pockets. Florida is the only state with a Free Kill or Wrongful Death Act that protects medical malpractice companies over valuing certain groups of people's lives.
So where does the profit come in for hospitals and doctors? Let's take a gander shall we...
The most profitable place for a hospital is likely where the most medical errors occur. I call this the happy medium of healthcare. Big Pharmaceutical companies are the largest issue in this arena. They not only teach doctors how to do this, but they pay them too! A database is kept on pharmaceutical companies and the doctors who accept payments from them, so fortunately it is pretty easy to find out where your doctor stands in relation to legal payouts in exchange for promoting drugs. In the happy medium, a medical practitioner will prescribe medication with side effects that keep a patient sick enough to be treated, but (hopefully) not sick enough to die. Opioids and sedatives are common culprits of drug overdose both in and out of medical facilities. Medical practitioners are often paid to prescribe these dangerous and often unnecessary drugs.
Opioid addiction is well knows to often begin in hospitals. According to the CDC, in the US today, there are about 19.2 overdoses per 100,000 people, a staggeringly high statistic considering that not all hospital overdoses are counted as such.
Roughly 50% of Floridians fall into the Free Kill category. The elderly, the young unmarried, and the middle aged single status people are affected most often. When a medical error occurs, hospitals (and those who erred that are treating patients directly) are faced with deciding between saving someone with costly medical procedures who could later sue them, or letting them die because. When the victim is a free kill, the less costly choice is to let the patient pass.
If a patient dies due to medical error and a court of law does not deem the provider accountable, medicare/medicaid/health insurance providers pay the hospital bill. The hospital and the doctor profits (in Florida) in the case of unaccountable death by medical error. Who picks up the tab for this? You and I do, as our medical premiums rise year over year.
Let's get this straight: medical insurance pays for wrongful death, that they wouldn't be paying for if they were held accountable. If they were held accountable, their medical malpractice premiums may (or may not) rise. Instead, since we can not hold the practitioners responsible, medical insurance picks up the tab and pays hospitals to commit medical errors that cause death. The consumers, the people, pay higher insurance premiums that rise due to a lack of accountability. Hmm let that sink in.
What can I do?
Talk to your local Senate and House of Representative members. Ask them to help us put an end to Florida's Free Kill law. Doing so may increase med mal costs for doctors that make consistent errors, but lower the cost of insurance for us. Someone has to pay, but why should we pay for their mistakes? Sign our letter that asks all Florida legislators to listen to our cause and rescind Florida's Free Kill Law. Join nearly 100k people in signing petitions posted by victim's families to vocalize your opinion that Florida Free Kill is wrong.