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Frequency of med claims falls, while severity rises
While the severity of malpractice claims continues to rise — growing at a rate of 7.5% annually — the frequency of malpractice claims has decreased by 1% over the past year, according to the 2005 Benchmark Analysis: Hospital Professional Liability and Physician Liability released recently by Aon Risk Consultants in Columbia, MD.
This is the first time in the history of the study the frequency trend decreased in claims for hospitals and physicians, says Greg Larcher, assistant director and actuary of Aon Risk Consultants and author of the analysis.
"We believe that legislative reforms in several states over the last few years are contributing to the reduction in claims," he explains. "In addition, the medical malpractice availability and affordability crisis of the last several years has resulted in a rapidly growing alternative market. Health care systems now have a greater financial incentive to reduce their cost of risk."
Larcher also suggests that actions taken by health care systems to improve quality of care and a heightened awareness of how quality care and patient safety tie directly to the cost of risk also have played a role in the decline.
The comprehensive study examines more than 200,000 hospital bed equivalents and represents approximately 10% of the hospital professional liability market and 15% of the alternative segment of the market, making it the largest analysis of its kind, Larcher says. [Editor's note: The full Aon report is available for purchase. Call (800) 242-2626 and request item 178700. Or go to www.ahaonlinestore.com and enter "178700" in the search box. The cost is $250 for American Hospital Association members and $350 for nonmembers, plus $23.95 shipping and handling.]