Economic Impact of Preventable Medical Errors Nearly $1 Trillion, Researchers Say | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Economic Impact of Preventable Medical Errors Nearly $1 Trillion, Researchers Say

October 17, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
| Reprints

According to a study from researchers at Wolters Kluwer’s Journal of Health Care Finance, preventable medical errors may cost the U.S. economy up to $1 trillion in “lost human potential and contributions.” The study’s authors used Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) to develop, what they say, is a “more complete accounting of the economic impact when someone dies from a preventable error.”

Most previous studies say the economic impact of preventable medical errors ranges from $17 billion up to $50 billion annually. “Previous studies do not come close to illustrating the economic loss of human potential and contribution, which families, colleagues, businesses, and communities experience when someone dies from a preventable medical error,” co-author and health policy analyst Stephen Davidow said in a statement.  “The magnitude of the problem for our society is many orders of magnitude greater than just the medical costs.”

According to Wolters Kluwer, the authors based their calculation on various “well-accepted” reports, studies, and economic measures. This included the well-known Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, “To Err Is Human,” which suggests that up to 98,000 deaths in the U.S. result from preventable medical error. Using this, they then estimated an average of ten years of life lost for each of the 98,000, and applied a range of $75,000 to $100,000 per year, which Wolters says is standard values for a year of life that account for lost earnings and other contributions.

The researchers would have gotten somewhere between $73.5 billion to $98 billion in QALYs with these calculations. Instead, using an article Health Affairs which stated preventable deaths due to medical errors are 10 times higher than the IOM estimate, the extrapolated impact was $735 billion to $980 billion. 



NewYork-Presbyterian, Walgreens Partner on Telemedicine Initiative

NewYork-Presbyterian and Walgreens are collaborating to bring expanded access to NewYork-Presbyterian’s healthcare through new telemedicine services, the two organizations announced this week.

ONC Releases Patient Demographic Data Quality Framework

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) developed a framework to help health systems, large practices, health information exchanges and payers to improve their patient demographic data quality.

AMIA, Pew Urge Congress to Ensure ONC has Funding to Implement Cures Provisions

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) have sent a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to ensure that ONC has adequate funding to implement certain 21st Century Cures Act provisions.

Former Michigan Governor to Serve as Chair of DRIVE Health

Former Michigan Governor John Engler will serve as chair of the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign aimed at accelerating the U.S. health system's transition to value-based care.

NJ Medical Group Launches Statewide HIE, OneHealth New Jersey

The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) recently launched OneHealth New Jersey, a statewide health information exchange (HIE) that is now live.

Survey: 70% of Providers Using Off-Premises Computing for Some Applications

A survey conducted by KLAS Research found that 70 percent of healthcare organizations have moved at least some applications or IT infrastructure off-premises.