The High Cost of Medical Malpractice
It goes without saying that negligent medical treatment is dangerous. We have shared numerous stories about individuals who tragically die because of a doctor or hospital error, or those whose lives are turned upside down because of serious medical conditions they develop after going to the hospital. While some statistics put medical malpractice as the third most common cause of death in the country, there is also a terrible cost to medical malpractice.
It is frightening enough to think that in 2009 $2.5 trillion was spent on health care in the United States, but nearly one-third of that figure was wasted on preventable costs. People in the United States spent $765 billion on services that were not needed, services that could have been provided at a lower cost, administrative fees and medical fraud. With the expected cost of health care to grow to $4.5 trillion in 2019, the cost of preventable costs would nearly double if they remained at 30 percent of overall health care costs.
So, why is so much wasted on preventable costs? Well, 92 percent of doctors in the United States have said that sometimes they make defensive medical decisions, instead of doing what is in their patients’ best interests. That means that nearly all doctors will order unnecessary tests or subject their patients to unnecessary treatments just because they are afraid of getting sued. Not only could this expose their patients to greater risk of harm, but it also costs their patients quite a bit.
Moreover, one-third of hospital patients will experience some kind of preventable harm. Not all of these errors are fatal, meaning that many of them may require follow-up medical care or longer hospital stays, both of which will also drive up the cost of preventable medical costs.
Is medical malpractice dangerous? Without a doubt, yes, but it is also incredibly expensive, something many people often forget.