How much does the NHS spend each year managing and responding to serious incidents?

Although several studies have tried to quantify the cost of ‘adverse events’ in healthcare, the true costs remain unknown. To understand the ‘true cost’ of serious incidents we need to consider:

  • The cost of additional treatment for the affected patient.
  • The opportunity costs that accrue from reporting and managing incidents, claims and complaints
  • Business costs that accrue when, for example, healthcare staff are suspended.
  • Costs resulting from implementing the duty of candour process, and
  • Penalties and sanctions imposed

In other industries, the HSE’s Incident Cost Calculator is used to quantify the true costs of incidents. Inspired by this tool, I developed the Healthcare Serious Incident Cost Calculator:


The tool aims to focus senior manager’s attention on the financial implications of not investing in patient safety. In a climate driven by finance and efficiency savings, we need tools like the Healthcare Serious Incident Cost Calculator to ensure patient safety does not become a secondary goal.

What’s the true cost of serious incidents in healthcare? We don’t know, Maybe by applying the Healthcare Serious Incident Cost Calculator we can begin to understand?


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