Cost of Medical Error – Term Paper

Cost of Medical Error to the Public 


Human being is prone to mistakes in everyday activities, literate or illiterate mistakes are ever there. The worst mistakes are those that cause harm to other people’s life. Hospitals are primarily meant for life sustenance, but this has not been the only activity taking place in the hospital. According to James, about 440,000 American lose their lives as a result of preventable errors made by doctors in the hospitals every year (James, 2013). Little effort has been made to reduce the rate of deaths that occur out of mistakes made by doctors and nurses when attending to patients (James, 2013). Even if physicians and nurses are prone to making a medical error, it is still possible to reduce the level of errors in both public and private hospitals. A medical error is a preventable adverse effect of health care caused by an inaccurate or incomplete diagnosis on a patient undergoing treatment at a health center (Radley et al., 2013). A medical error can lead to physical injuries, infections or chronic diseases that result in even death of the patient

Medical error story

Scope of Medical Error

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Most of the American hospitals have been working around the clock to provide better health survive to their customers for about three decades, applying variety of methods but still a good number of patients die because of avoidable mistakes made by physicians (Andel, et al, 2012).  Andel and his friend gives approximate figure of about 200,000 patients go down before their time just because of preventable errors. American federal government has experienced an additional medical cost of about $ 17 billion suspected to have been caused by errors made by doctors in the public hospital (Andel, et al, 2012). It is the role of the central government to provide every citizen with better health care as provided in the American constitution. It is the citizens who contribute the largest percentage of the national revenue hence are titled to free medical care.

The government apparently counters the increase in medical care by increasing the amount of tax it levies on the public. Nearly $ 1 trillion is spent annually by the government trying to provide better medical care to the citizens (Andel, et al, 2012). Economically, the increased cost of health care is translated into the general cost of public living standards. Jones, in his finding describes the effect of increase in tax on the public welfare (Jones, 2015). Every individual contribute to the public development in one way or another through tax collection.

Financial Cost

It is evident that tax has to increase with an increase in the cost of government expenditure on both productive and nonproductive expenditure. Growth in income tax causes an increase in the amount of money demanded for the purchase of day to day goods and services. As more tax is cut from the individual income, the usual demand for goods and services in the economy decrease following a decline in individual income (Jones, 2015). The regular household expenditure has to reduce following a fall in the amount of revenue thus interfering with the general public welfare. As the amount of tax increase due to the increase in the government expenditure on health issues, people work very hard to evade tax hence ignoring their production activities. It is from the work that people get involved in that result to the productivity of the economy. The total gross domestic income of the United States of America has to reduce following the decrease in the income of the individuals (Skrahina et al., 2013).  Instead of putting public income into a fruitful economic growth, the government use tens of billions dollar every year trying to reduce the amount of medical error in the hospitals, Centers for Disease Control, (2013).

Social cost

The taxpayers spend a lot of their income but are still faced with poor health quality through the mistakes made by the doctors in the hospital. There are non-economic losses experienced by the public when one dies or gets infected following a medical error (Van et al., 2011). Once patients die, burial has to take place, and it is the family and friends who take the responsibility of the funeral expense. People can no longer afford luxury following the increase in the cost of living caused by the hospital mistakes. Public insurance is responsible for the provision of health cover to the patients who seek medication both in the private and public sectors across various states (Antwi et al., 2015). Any additional cost on health is experienced by the insurance makes the organization to increase the amount of premium paid by the public (Antwi et al., 2015). An increase in the amount of premium is spread even to individuals who do not access medication in the hospitals.

Prevent medical error

Possible Control

Medical errors in the health care centers have been a common fear for most of the patients. These errors can be managed by both the medical providers and the patient themselves if the two parties take medical care. The effort by the national government and the National Healthcare has come up with a strategy of rewarding hospitals that implement patient safety programs that aim at reducing the rate of medical errors (James, 2013). To add on that, hospitals that have refused to observe patient safety fails to get reimbursed for the costs that are associated with adverse medical effects (Radley, 2013). Data by the hospital safety score shows an effort by the hospitals to reduce the amount of infections caused by medical mistakes.

Lastly, through computerized provider order entry, hospitals have been able to reduce the amount of error made by the doctors and nurses during treatment (Radley, 2013). Ordering of drugs and giving of medication through the CPOE system is considered a better option of reducing the amount of medical mistakes made by the doctors on patients. It is estimated that the level of medical-error effect on the public has reduced by 12% since the year 2008. Following this report, it is obvious that the government expenditure on public health service will reduce by a bigger percentage if all hospitals can adopt the electronic method.


In summary, there are various costs incurred as a result of a medical error made by either physicians or nurses working in the health centers (James, 2013). More lives are lost every day in the United States due to the numerous errors made by the medical providers. This makes the government spend more money in managing the additional costs that result from the errors made on the patients. The amount of income that could have been used in the provision of other public goods is instead used in the additional health care costs (Radley, 2013). Lastly, if every hospital can implement the new compensation incentives, there will be very limited errors made by the doctors.  


Antwi, Y. A., Moriya, A. S., & Simon, K. I. (2015). Access to health insurance and the use of inpatient medical care: evidence from the Affordable Care Act young adult mandate. Journal of health economics, 39, 171-187.

Andel, C., Davidow, S. L., Hollander, M., & Moreno, D. A. (2012). The economics of health care quality and medical errors. Journal of health care finance, 39(1), 39.

Jones, C. I. (2015). Pareto and Piketty: The macroeconomics of top income and wealth inequality. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 29(1), 29-46.

James, J. T. (2013). A new, evidence-based estimate of patient harms associated with hospital care. Journal of patient safety, 9(3), 122-128.

Radley, D. C., Wasserman, M. R., Olsho, L. E., Shoemaker, S. J., Spranca, M. D., & Bradshaw, B. (2013). Reduction in medication errors in hospitals due to the adoption of computerized provider order entry systems. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 20(3), 470-476.

Skrahina, A., Hurevich, H., Zalutskaya, A., Sahalchyk, E., Astrauko, A., Hoffner, S,…. & van Gemert, W. (2013). Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in Belarus: the size of the problem and associated risk factors. Bulletin of the World Health Organization91(1), 36-45.