Physician-owned hospitals provide a high level of care and measurably lower complication and mortality rates, according to the Physician Hospitals of America, a trade association that provides support to hospitals owned by physicians. In a news release, the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based trade group responded to a letter last week from congressional leaders to the CMS about the death of a patient who had been transferred to another facility after having had spinal surgery at a physician-owned hospital in Abilene, Texas.
The association said "Patient deaths in community hospitals are a daily occurrence," and also reacted to a written comment from Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) that physician-owned hospitals "suck money out of already-strapped community hospitals."
The group cited an October 2006 report from the American Hospital Association that aggregate profits at community hospitals reached an all-time high in 2005 at $28.9 billion—up from $26.3 billion in 2004—while the aggregate profit margin was 5.3%, the highest margin in seven years. "The mere fact that profits at community hospitals are at an all-time high is clear indication that community hospitals are not in peril as Rep. Stark suggests," Molly Gutierrez, executive director for the association, said in the news release.