New York Times columnist David Leonhardt’s latest piece is a treasure trove of fun facts about medical malpractice.
The direct costs of malpractice lawsuits — jury awards, settlements and the like — are such a minuscule part of health spending that they barely merit discussion, economists say. But that doesn’t mean the malpractice system is working . . .
$60 billion a year, or about 3 percent of overall medical spending, is a reasonable upper-end estimate [of wasteful treatment] . . .
Medical errors happen more frequently here than in other rich countries, as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently found. Only a tiny share of victims receive compensation . . .
All told, jury awards, settlements and administrative costs — which, by definition, are similar to the combined cost of insurance — add up to less than $10 billion a year. This equals less than one-half of a percentage point of medical spending.
Hmmmm. Makes a fellow think.