The medical industry has paid only a quarter for every dollar of damage it inflicted, according to a new report released by the Society of Actuaries.
Despite the popular myth that health care costs have risen in recent years due to the effects of malpractice litigation, in fact, the Society of Actuaries report released this month suggests that the cost of medical errors actually dwarfs that of malpractice litigation that results when the injured patients or their surviving family seek remedy.
According to the report, 6.3 million measurable medical injuries, 1.5 million of which were associated with a medical error, cost the U.S. economy $19.5 billion in 2008. This cost is separate from the cost of health care facility acquired infections, which cost $30 billion annually.
The amount paid to plaintiffs as a result of litigation was only $4.6 billion, less than a quarter of the cost of malpractice. Most of the money obtained by plaintiffs from such litigation goes to paying for care necessitated by the medical injury.
Nearly 200,000 people die from errors each year, but few states carefully monitor adverse events in their health facilities according to a Hearst Newspapers investigation. Most states require no reporting or have yet to implement monitoring systems.