The number of medical malpractice claims has decreased in recent years but the severity of claims is up, according to the PIAA.
The PIAA’s findings come from its Data Sharing Project (DSP), the largest ongoing independent collaborative database of medical professional liability (MPL) claims and lawsuits. An excellent malpractice litigation support resource for physicians, the database tracks malpractice litigation trends based on hundreds of thousands of closed medical claims and suits. Now in its thirtieth year, the DSP helps identify claim patterns and pinpoint areas of vulnerability in medical practice.
In remarks at the Vermont Captive Insurance Association’s annual conference, Divya Parikh, vice president of research and risk management at the PIAA, said that a number of factors are driving the decrease in claims, notably the adoption of best practices in patient safety and risk management.
“In the past 10 years, we’ve seen a lot of effort put behind risk management and patient safety efforts,” said Parikh. In addition, she said, “We do see a lot of advancement in how folks are addressing certain diagnostic procedures.”
As for what’s driving the increase in severity, Parikh said that “certain medical procedures are more desirable for attorneys to focus on. Those drive the claims you’re seeing out there. Those happen to be the more catastrophic claims, the more difficult cases. We’re seeing less of smaller claims being reported.”
Among the other malpractice litigation trends the DSP is tracking is an increase in primary care claims over the last decade, especially in internal medicine, which outranks even obstetrics in the sheer number of claims if not in severity and average indemnity payments. PIAA also is evaluating how risk managers and claims professionals are mitigating areas of concern related to TeleHealth, electronic health records and the delivery of care by non physicians.