The researchers conclude that medical malpractice costs about $55.6 billion per year, or 2.4% of all health care spending each year. Here’s the interesting part. They estimate that doctors and hospitals practicing defensive medicine – ordering additional tests and taking other steps to justify their actions if they should be sued – amount to $45.6 billion of that total. That’s 82% of the total.
If I’m doing my math right, that means that the rest of the cost of medical malpractice – including payments to victims injured by the negligence of doctors and hospitals – is $10 billion a year, or 18% of the total.
Here’s the real kicker, though. Even if payments to med-mal victims made up all of that $10 billion – which it doesn’t – it would amount to 0.5% of this country’s annual health care costs. One-half of one percent! Kind of shoots a hole in the argument of tort reformers who say “skyrocketing” costs of medical malpractice payouts are the main reason for the high cost of health care.
I think this new research shows that tort reformers, who happen to have big profits they’re trying to protect, should stop focusing on taking away your rights to be compensated for being injured by negligence. Instead, they should focus on weeding out the doctors and hospitals that commit malpractice so there’s no need to pay victims in the first place.