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Luxury space for rich patients raises questions

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The expanding provision of special services for rich and/or VIP patients in hospitals in increasingly class-stratified  America is raising some ethical and practical issues.

Some physicians suggest that VIP services are a harmless way to raise money by $1,000-a-night room charges and big donations by patients happy about  being able stay in parts of hospitals  that are set up like luxury hotels  just for them. At some hospitals, some physicians are even trained to get donations from their, er, guests.

Bu  as this New York Times piece says, some argue that “regular patients lose when hospitals dedicate their best spaces to elite units. One study found that patients in a room with a view of nature recovered faster from gallbladder surgery than those who faced a brick wall. Even having a room with more sunlight has been associated with decreased patient stress and use of pain medications. ”

Hospitals that provide faster care to some well-heeled emergency room patients might hurt other patients

“A doctor in Connecticut surveyed the directors of 32 emergency departments around the state on whether they gave faster treatment to VIPs in their emergency rooms. Most responded, and all but one supported the practice. Regular patients who are well enough wait a little longer, which prompted the doctor to call the practice ‘vaguely unethical but necessary.”’

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