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Medical Errors: Costly Compromises of Quality Care

  • Synopsis: Published: 2010-12-30 - The SOA used insurance claims data to provide the measurement of the price of preventable medical errors - Fiol & Gomez, P.A..

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According to a new study, avoidable medical errors cost Americans $19.5 billion in 2008. The Society of Actuaries (SOA) bases the figure on a conservative estimate of 1.5 million measurable medical errors.

The SOA used insurance claims data to provide the measurement of the price of preventable medical errors.

Staggering Cost of Medical Errors

Managing director of MBA Actuaries, Inc. Jim Toole said in a statement accompanying the report, "Of the $19.5 billion in total costs, approximately $17 billion was the result of providing inpatient, outpatient and prescription drug services to individuals who were affected by medical errors. While this cost is staggering, it also highlights the need to reduce errors and improve quality and efficiency in American healthcare."

The study's findings include the following:

  • In 2008, there were 6.3 million medical injuries; of those, 1.5 million were the result of medical error
  • The average cost of each medical error: $13,000
  • Seven percent of hospital and other inpatient admissions result in medical injury
  • Avoidable medical errors caused more than 2,500 preventable deaths
  • American workers and employers lost more than 10 million days of work due to short-term disability brought about by preventable medical errors

Five Common, Costly Errors

The study identifies five common errors that account for approximately 55 percent of all costs of preventable medical errors:

  • Pressure ulcers (bed sores; almost always the result of medical error): $39 billion
  • Post-surgery infections: $3.7 billion
  • Hemorrhages resulting in complications of a procedure: $960 million
  • Mechanical problems with medical devices, implants and grafts: $1.1 billion
  • Postlaminectomy syndrome (a persistence of pain and disability after back surgery to relieve pressure on a nerve): $1.1 billion

Though doctors, hospitals, nurses, insurance companies, lobbyists and other factions in the health care industry are often resistant to change that could reduce the frequency of preventable medical errors, patients who have been harmed by avoidable error or negligence have viable legal options.

If you have been injured by doctor or hospital negligence, contact a medical malpractice attorney in your area to discuss the facts of your case and learn more about available legal remedies. A medical malpractice lawyer fights for compensation in cases involving surgical error, misdiagnosis, medication errors, infections and other preventable medical mistakes.

Article provided by Fiol & Gomez, P.A. - Visit us at

Related Information:

  1. Saving Yourself From Medical Mistakes
  2. Disclosure of Medical Errors Decreased Claims
  3. The Costs of Medical Errors

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