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$19.5 Billion Worth of Medical Mistakes Each Year

The Wall Street Journal Blog recently posted on the staggering cost of medical errors each year in hospitals across the country. The Society of Actuaries commissioned the study into the cost of these errors on the U.S. economy, using an admitted conservative estimate of 1.5 million errors in a year.

All told, the cumulative amount spent on these medical errors including actual healthcare costs, lost productivity, and increased mortality rate is slightly less than $20 billion. Other studies have attempted to measure to true cost of the preventable doctor mistakes, but this latest study offers the largest sample size, using neutral data, and with better control measures. In other words, these study results represent the best analysis to date on the true economic cost of medical malpractice.

Interestingly, the costliest error is bed sores. These sores (also known as pressure sores) are almost always caused by negligent medical care and involve patients developing deep skin lesions caused by constant pressure bone prominences on the body. They develop when a patient (or nursing home resident) is not given the proper care while spending large amounts of time in bed.

As these figures indicate, the financial cost of medical errors alone should be enough to prompt drastic efforts to ensure that they occur less frequently. Of course these economic figures do not factor in the terrible emotional, mental, social costs caused by preventable hospital mistakes. As our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti are fully aware, entire families are often torn apart by doctor mistakes that could easily have been prevented.

Renewed energy and effort should be placed on identifying troubled hospitals and doctors, holding them accountable for their errors and ensuring that they do not injury other patients.