Each year, Seattle-area patients suffer from medical mistakes which result in serious injuries or death. Nationally, there are more than 1.3 million injuries caused by medical malpractice and negligence and more than 180,000 deaths because of medical mistakes each year.
A study released in October 2005 by Aon and American Society of Healthcare Risk Management reported on the frequency and severity of medical malpractice claims. Key findings of the study included:
- Overall the frequency of claims against healthcare facilities is decreasing. In 2004, there were 3 claims for each 100 acute care bed equivalents, down from 3.3 percent in 1999. The analysts hypothesize that self-insured healthcare systems have a greater financial incentive to reduce the cost of risk, make investments to improve the quality of care, and reduce medical errors. Consumer attitudes may also be changing as result of the enormous media attention given to the physician insurance crisis and how it relates to availability of healthcare at the local level.
- The frequency of claims against physicians was also declining, based on data from the National Practitioner Data Bank. The frequency of claims against physicians had dropped from 9.3 percent in 1999 to 8.1 percent in 2004.<
- The severity of institutional claims continues to grow from a low of 102,000 to $172,000 in 2004. (This data excludes settlements or awards yielding more than $2 million.
- Using ten years of data, public hospitals were found to have the highest percentage of claims of more than $1 million, with 39 percent of the exposure and 43.4 percent of the total number of large loss counts. Specialty hospitals had the least number of large loss claims.
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