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Annual Cost of Medical Errors Estimated at $17.1 Billion

Analysts with the actuarial firm Milliman estimate that measurable medical errors cost the nation $17.1 billion in 2008. Pressure ulcers, postoperative infections, and post-laminectomy syndrome were the most frequently occurring errors identified in their examination of medical claims data. Ten types of errors were the most costly, accounting for two-thirds of annual medical error costs. Postoperative infections, pressure  ulcers, and mechanical complication of a noncardiac device, implant, or graft topped the most costly list of errors. Data is provided on the incidence,  expense per error,  and the national aggregate cost for each of the most frequent and most costly error types.

Source: Van Den Bos J and others. The $17.1 billion problem: the annual cost of measurable medical errors. Health Affairs, vol. 30, no.4, Apr. 2011, pp. 596-603. http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/30/4/596.abstract