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Harvard Study Reports Medical Malpractice Costs Reach $55 Billion Annually n U.S.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Posted on 10 Sep 2010

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A study conducted by researchers at Harvard University shows that malpractice is costing the U.S. health care system more than $55 billion a year.

According to an article published in the September issue of the journal Health Affairs, the analysis found the annual overall cost of medical liability to be $55.6 billion, or 2.4 percent of total health care spending.

"We cannot debate the potential for medical liability reform to bring down health care costs in any meaningful way without realistic cost estimates," said Michelle Mello, a Harvard professor of law and public health and lead author of the study. "Some of the numbers bandied about in policy discussions were quite imaginative, and we wanted a more defensible estimate."

The analysis included payments made to plaintiffs, administrative costs such as attorney fees and the costs of doctors' lost work time. It also included the costs of "defensive medicine," in which doctors perform or order extra tests and procedures to protect themselves legally.


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