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Lakeside Hospital Case

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Lakeside Hospital
A hospital just can’t afford to operate a department at 50 percent capacity. If we average 20 dialysis pa- tients, it costs us $425 per treatment, and we’re only paid $250. If a department can’t cover its costs, includ- ing a fair share of overhead, it isn’t self-sufficient and I don’t think we should carry it.

Peter Lawrence, M.D., Director of Specialty Services at Lakeside Hospital, was addressing James Newell, M.D., Chief Nephrologist of Lakeside’s Renal Division, concerning a change in Medicare’s payment policies for hemodialysis treatments. Recently, Medicare had begun paying independent dialysis clinics for standard dialysis treatments, and the change in policy had caused patient volume in Lakeside’s dialysis unit to decrease to about 50 percent of capacity, producing a corresponding increase in per-treatment costs. By February of the current fiscal year, Dr. Lawrence and Lakeside’s Medical Director were considering closing the hospital’s dialysis unit. Dr. Newell, who had been Chief Nephrologist since he’d helped establish the unit, was op- posed to closing it. Although he was impressed by the quality of care that independent centers of- fered, he was convinced that Lakeside’s unit was necessary for providing back-up and emergency services for the outpatient centers, as well as for treatment for some of the hospital’s seriously ill inpatients. Furthermore, although the unit could not achieve the low costs of the independent cen- ters, he disagreed with Dr. Lawrence’s cost figure of $425 per treatment. He resolved to prepare his own cost analysis for their next meeting. BACKGROUND Approximately twenty years ago, at Dr. Newell’s initiative, Lakeside had opened the dialysis unit, largely in response to the growing number of patients with chronic kidney disease. The hospi- tal’s renal division had long provided acute renal failure care and…...

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