Medical liability costs may total $55.6 billion annually, study finds

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Jury hands down $3.3 million verdict against CO nursing home in negligence case
Jury hands down $3.3 million verdict against CO nursing home in negligence case

Medical liability and defensive medicine cost the United States an estimated $55.6 billion each year, according to a study in Health Affairs. That represented about 2.4% of national healthcare spending in 2008.

The estimate includes economic, non-economic and punitive damages paid to claimants; administrative expenses such as attorneys' fees and other legal expenses; and the cost of defensive medicine, and other costs, AHA News Now reported.

"Our estimates should be interpreted cautiously, with recognition that some system cost elements were excluded and others—particularly the defensive medicine figures—were estimated based on substantial assumptions and extrapolations," according to the study authors.