In 2008, the cost of health care was $2.3 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That averages out to about $7,681.00 per person. The U.S. spent nearly $55.6 billion on medical malpractice lawsuits and defensive medicine, which represents about 2.4% of the entire budget. Defensive medicine however, made up about $45.6 billion of that, meaning that only $10 billion was spent on medical malpractice lawsuits in 2008.
Defensive medicine is defined as medical tests and procedures performed to avoid medical malpractice liability and not to improve the patient's health.
Researchers for the journal Health Affairs, published by the Harvard School of Public Health in September 2010, found that attempting to reduce the number of medical malpractice lawsuits would result in only a negligible effect on the cost of health care, and reducing the cost of defensive medicine would do little more.
If we could improve the quality of health care in the United States, we would be saving a lot of money a year. By improving the quality of health care, we would reduce the need for medical malpractice lawsuits and costs, such as longer hospitalizations due to hospital acquired infections and pneumonia, bedsores, and wrong site surgeries, all of which are avoidable medical problems.