• The best way to reduce malpractice suits? Reduce malpractice Friday, April 16, 2010

    Patient advocates have long argued that the best way to reduce the number of medical negligence lawsuits is not by infringing on the rights of victims to seek compensation for their injuries through the civil justice system but by reducing the number of victims.  A new report from RAND Corporation, the non-profit research group, set out to determine if there is a relationship between improvements in patient safety and the amount of malpractice suits.

    RAND reportIt turns out there is.  RAND’s report “investigates the relationship between safety outcomes in hospitals and malpractice claiming against providers, using data for California hospitals and insurers from 2001 through 2005,” in the words of the researchers.  They analyzed more than 365,000 “in-hospital events and complications with potential to harm patients” over the five-year period from such things as post-surgical problems to infections originating in a hospital.  The researchers also examined a database of about 27,000 claims from four of the largest medical malpractice insurers in the state.

    The upshot: A correlation between better health care and fewer malpractice lawsuits. The authos say that a county with a decrease of 10 adverse events would see 3.7 fewer malpractice claims. Similary, an increase of 10 events would suggest 3.7 more malpractice claims. 

    Rand researchers say their study is the first to suggest that efforts to improve patient safety could contribute to fewer medical malpractice claims.

    The report concludes by yanking the bandage off wounds left by the state’s long-running tort wars: 

    “Arguments about the merits of statutory tort intervention will surely continue in the future,
    but to the extent that improved safety performance can be shown to have a demonstrable
    impact on malpractice claims, that offers another focal point for policymakers in seeking to
    address the malpractice crisis. Based on the results of the current study, we would suggest that that focal point may be more immediately relevant than has previously been recognized.”

    That’s a nice, academic way of saying something simple: Fewer medical errors, fewer lawsuits.

    –J.G. Preston

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One Response to “The best way to reduce malpractice suits? Reduce malpractice”

  1. Debra Bailey says:

    What are people to do when doctors cause injury? They aren’t afraid because no will take their case. My hasband was discharged with wrong diagnosis and “helped” by 4 strong men (was stuffed into our truck) because doctor said nothing more I can do. Told I would have to figure out what to do at home. They readmitted to hospital next week. Told I should take him home with hospice care. While a patient things got worse. He didn;t have liver diease. He had a stroke while in hospital and for two days complained of chest pain just to find out he was having heart attack. His blood thinner was stopped even with me objecting; because of his hx of clots and afib. I got him transfered to a university hospital that is how I found out he has a stroke. Maybe you want this doctor caring for your loved one. My husband in an invalid and with have nothing but retirement income. How is this fair? Laws should protect people not the perpertrater. No one with help me because of the cap. Thanks Gov Brown

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