Bad Economy = Less Malpractice

I’m a big fan of the law of unintended consequences. Here’s one: better medical care because of a bad economy.

Why? I’m glad you asked. The economic downturn has helped the quality of nursing. During good times, every nurse (and their mother) was selling real estate on the side or involved in some other economic opportunity that provided economic growth. So nursing vacancies were high. In today’s economy, nurses are losing those opportunities and are retreating to the hospitals and nursing homes, which increased the number of full-time permanent nurses. This is cheaper for the hospitals and allows them to be choosier about the nurses they pick, immediately improving patient care.

Does a bad economy really decrease incidence of medical malpractice? I don’t know. I’ll leave that to the Freakanomics guys and their progeny. I just think this is interesting.