Putting aside the human toll medical errors impose on individuals, the financial impact of medical errors can be downright daunting. According to a study commissioned by the Society of Actuaries, our country (and economy) is hobbled by a daunting $80 billion in medical errors every year! An estimated 25% of those expenses, $19.5 billion, were determined to be avoidable.
In reconciling these figures, the actuaries determined that an estimated 1.5 million measurable and preventable medical errors in 2008 resulted in significant increases in disability, death, lost productivity and increased medical costs.
Though preventable medical errors can occur in a number of hospital and situations, 55% errors were due to:
- Pressure ulcers
- Postoperative infections
- Mechanical complications of devices or implants
- Post-laminectomy syndrome
- Hemorrhages complicating a procedure
The actuaries arrived at their calculations based upon an insurance claims database. However, as acknowledged by the authors of the study, the actual cost of preventable medical errors may be substantially higher as a notable number of errors go unreported.
From a dollars-and-sense analysis of cases involving medical errors, it is undeniable that these situations need to be addressed by medical facilities both in order to improve patient care and to help improve their own financial well being.