Social Costs From Medical Errors Could Near $1 Trillion, Researchers Find

by Ryan McNeill

Source: Dallas Morning News Online

The social cost of adverse medical events could near $1 trillion yearly, according to newly published research.

The study sought to quantify the social cost, or just how much it costs Americans yearly because of lost life and limb due to adverse medical events. Adverse medical events are "injuries and deaths that are caused by something other than the medical condition for which the patient is seeking care," according to the study.

Authors estimate that social cost ranges from $393 billion to $958 billion.

"Every time the health care system spends a dollar trying to heal us, it causes as much as 45 cents worth of harm," study co-author John C. Goodman said in a press release.

Researchers also said patients have as much as a 1 in 200 chance of dying from a cause other than why they were hospitalized.

"That's really high when you consider that many federal regulatory agencies regard a one in a million chance of death as a minimally acceptable risk," said co-author Pamela Villarreal.

The study, by the National Center for Policy Analysis, is featured in April editions of Health Affairs.

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