Corporate and Hospital Profiteering in Emergency Medicine: Problems of the Past, Present, and Future

Robert W. Derlet, Robert M. McNamara, Scott H. Plantz, Matthew K. Organ, John R Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background Health care delivery in the United States has evolved in many ways over the past century, including the development of the specialty of Emergency Medicine (EM). With the creation of this specialty, many positive changes have occurred within hospital emergency departments (EDs) to improve access and quality of care of the nation's de facto “safety net.” The specialty of EM has been further defined and held to high standards with regard to board certification, sub-specialization, maintenance of skills, and research. Despite these advances, problems remain. Objective This review discusses the history and evolution of for-profit corporate influence on EM, emergency physicians, finance, and demise of democratic group practice. The review also explores federal and state health care financing issues pertinent to EM and discusses potential solutions. Discussion The monopolistic growth of large corporate contract management groups and hospital ownership of vertically integrated physician groups has resulted in the elimination of many local democratic emergency physician groups. Potential downsides of this trend include unfair or unlawful termination of emergency physicians, restrictive covenants, quotas for productivity, admissions, testing, patient satisfaction, and the rising cost of health care. Other problems impact the financial outlook for EM and include falling federal, state, and private insurance reimbursement for emergency care, balance-billing, up-coding, unnecessary testing, and admissions. Conclusions Emergency physicians should be aware of the many changes happening to the specialty and practice of EM resulting from corporate control, influence, and changing federal and state health care financing issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)902-909
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • billing
  • contract management group
  • corporation
  • emergency medicine
  • finance
  • Medicare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Emergency Medicine


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