Intended for healthcare professionals


US hospitals pass on most of the costs of errors

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 17 April 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:852
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

US hospitals pass 78% of the costs of all adverse events and 70% of the costs of negligent injuries to other payers, says a report by Harvard researchers. Their report, published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies (2007;4:835-60), says that these other payers include the Medicare insurance plan for elderly people, health insurance companies, disability insurance programmes, and injured patients and their families.

Medical errors cost $17bn (£8.6bn; €10.7bn) to $29bn a year in the United States, estimates the Institute of Medicine. Advocates for patients’ safety have tried to persuade hospitals that the cost of malpractice lawsuits and adverse events are a “business …

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