Published on September 9, 2010 at 6:55 AM
The combined cost of malpractice -- and doctors' efforts to avoid it by practicing so-called defensive medicine -- costs about $55.6 billion a year, or 2.4 percent of total health spending, according to a new analysis by "Harvard University's Atul Gawande and co-authors, Bloomberg
reports. "The yearly price of so-called defensive medicine -- tests, visits and procedures performed to reduce litigation risk -- is about $45.6 billion, the authors said today in the journal Health Affairs, in a report using 2008 dollars." The authors said that is not a "trivial" amount, but less than anticipated by some who made "imaginative" estimates on the issue (Wechsler, 9/7).
For instance, NPR's blog Shots
reports, "Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), a physician, said recently on the House Republican website America Speaking Out that the tab runs 'an astounding $650 billion each year. That's 26 percent of all money spent on health care.'" Despite the study's results that the actual figure is less than one-tenth of that GOP claim, the authors say malpractice problems are worth addressing. "We're spending a very large amount of money every year on a system that's deeply flawed," said researcher Michelle Mello, also of Harvard (Rovner, 9/7).