Medicolegal Issues

By the Numbers: 3,000


Approximate number of million-dollar hospitalization bills in Northern California hospitals in 2010, up from 430 a decade earlier, according to statistics from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.1 More than 20% of the giant bills—typically for complicated, life-saving procedures and lengthy hospital stays following critical illness or trauma—went to the parents of newborn babies with catastrophic illnesses. Organ transplants were also associated with extended hospital stays and million-dollar price tags.

Medical bills are a major factor in two-thirds of personal bankruptcy cases, although most of the largest bills will be lowered significantly, as much as 80%, after negotiations between hospitals and insurers.


  1. Reese P, Smith D. Million-dollar hospital bills rise sharply in Northern California. Sacramento Bee website. Available at: Accessed March 29, 2012.

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