Cost awareness among doctors in an Irish university-affiliated teaching hospital

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William H.C. Tiong *
Michael O'Shaughnessy
Sean T. O'Sullivan
(*) Corresponding Author:
William H.C. Tiong | willhct@yahoo.com

Abstract

Previous studies in USA and Canada have found that physicians and physicians in training have a limited understanding of medical care costs. In this study, we set out to survey all grades of doctors in the surgical department, emergency department, and anaesthetic department in a university-affiliated, Irish teaching hospital. Open-ended questionnaires on cost of 25 routinely used items in the hospital were sent to each department. The aims of the study were to assess the present knowledge of cost among the various grades of doctors, and to evaluate the level of professional experience on cost awareness and their confidence in their estimates. We had an overall response rate of 56.8% with 68.5% of doctors admitted to have estimated more than 90% of their responses. Ninety three percent of doctors have no confidence in their estimates on cost of listed items. We found that the lack of cost awareness was universal among doctors of all grades (P = 0.236). The doctors in our study population showed a high level of inaccuracy on their estimates of cost of routinely used items with 84% of the items overestimated. Our results were discouraging and demonstrated that considerable educational activity will be necessary if doctors are to be more cost effective in meeting the national health care budget.

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Author Biographies

William H.C. Tiong, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Cork University Hospital, Cork

Registrar in Plastic Surgery

Michael O'Shaughnessy, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Cork University Hospital, Cork

Consultant Plastic Surgeon

Sean T. O'Sullivan, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Cork University Hospital, Cork

Consultant Plastic Surgeon