Hospital Survey: Medical Malpractice Claims Drop Slightly

A study of 1,600 U.S. hospitals shows that medical malpractice claims nationwide are decreasing, while the awards in the claims remain stable.

Fiercehealthfinance.com reports that hospital insurer Zurich North America concludes that medical malpractice claims are now filed below the rate they were in 2006: today’s rate is 1.96 per occupied bed, while it was 2.8 claims per occupied bed four years ago.

The company says small claims, those valued below $1 million, are growing.

It also states that the per-claim amount between the years 1997 and 2007 rose by an annual increase of four percent.

The report also notes that children’s hospitals and teaching hospitals are the most frequent targets of medical malpractice claims and are also the institutions paying the highest amounts in claims. Nonprofit hospitals, on the other hand, are paying the lowest amounts among hospitals.

The report doesn’t break new ground, but it does reinforce an important bit of information often overlooked in politicized debates over medical malpractice reform: the fact is that medical malpractice claims and awards aren’t skyrocketing. They can’t reasonably or logically be blamed for what ails the American health care system.

While it might be politically beneficial to point fingers at medical malpractice, the reality is that these claims almost always come from people who have suffered terrible harm because of negligence by a doctor, hospital, nurse, chiropractor or other health care provider.

The debate can often become emotional because so much is at stake in these claims. Particularly for those who face financial ruin and long-lasting health problems because of medical malpractice or preventable medical error after a car accident.

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