According to a recent report published by Zurich, a Schaumburg, Illinois based insurer of hospitals and healthcare organizations, healthcare organizations are seeing slightly fewer medical malpractice claims. The report also indicates these claims are not increasing in their dollar amount awarded to victims either. The information retrieved form this study works to support the state' decision against placing damage caps on the amount of money that can be awarded to a victim.
Zurich collected data from 1,600 hospitals from 1997 through 2007. The findings from their study were released at the fifth annual benchmarking report on malpractice claims brought on by Illinois and Chicago medical malpractice lawyers. The report indicates that claims severity, which is the average dollar amount awarded per claim, has stabilized over the past several years. The report also divulged that the average annual increase in the dollar amount awarded for claims over the past 11 years is a meager 4 percent, which can be justified by inflation and rising health care costs.
Leo Carroll, the head of healthcare-specialty products at Zurich North America Commercial, discussed some of the key findings of the study, "It' interesting to note that severity does continue to rise among claims valued under $1 million, which are the claims considered more typical within an institution's loss experience." Carroll added that the most severe claims, those valued between $1 and $5 million, have stabilized.
The reports released by Zurich showed that there is some measurable difference between the various types of hospitals the study used information from and the level of claims severity. For instance, children' hospitals have higher claim severity than acute care community hospitals and other outpatient facilities. The report showed non-profit hospitals have the lowest severity, with faith-based non-profit institutions having the lowest total severity of all.
Zurich is committed to monitoring these trends and interpreting what they mean. According to Carroll, "We're continuing to monitor the impact of claim activity by changes in tort reform, patient safety initiatives and use of technology to improve quality of care."