Archives: October 2015

October 2015 Newsletter

Medical Liability Monitor: High Rates Remain Unchanged The annual survey of medical liability insurers showed rates little changed from 2014 to 2015, with clear inconsistencies from state to state that can be attributed to a given state’s medical liability climate. The Medical Liability Monitor survey showed that 71 percent of insurance premiums did not change, while 17 percent of rates rose and 12 percent fell – indicating that the plateau of high rates continues. Internists experienced an average premium increase of 0.6 percent in 2015, while general surgeons saw a 0.2 percent average rate decrease, and obstetricians/gynecologists experienced an average 0.5 percent increase. Most staggering are the differences in liability rates based on states that have passed liability reforms and those that have not. For obstetricians/gynecologists, premiums ranged from $214,999 in southern New York to $16,240 in central California, where the gold standard of liability reform, MICRA, was passed 40 years ago and reaffirmed by voters in 2014. “Various factors influence premium amounts, including the overall legal climate and the rate of insurer competition in each state,” said Susan J. Forray, principal and consulting actuary with the Milwaukee office of Milliman, a global provider of actuarial services. “The dollar amounts…

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Florida’s culture of medical malpractice claims isn’t good for health care

Florida has the highest loss rate among states when it comes to settling medical malpractice claims, according to a new study from Aon Risk Solutions and the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management. The cost of settling and defending medical malpractice claims in Florida is 2.9 times the national average. That high cost of settling or defending malpractice claims – $8,190 on average – does not indicate a thriving health care industry. “It’s a high expense item compared to others states and it hurts the health care mission of providing a high level of care,” said Erik Johnson, director and actuary of Aon Global Risk Consulting. The trend in the health care industry is to become more efficient in providing quality care, and in doing so, save money. But a malpractice claim in a state where the cost of such an action is so steep can disincentive doctors from setting up practice. Doctors may also order extra tests to cover all bases in avoiding malpractice action and those added costs filter down to the patients. In 2014, the average amount for medical malpractice claims that resulted in a payment to the claimant was $299,800 in Florida. The nationwide average was…

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Malpractice premiums flat in 2015, but changes could be ahead

Physicians paid about the same in liability insurance premiums in 2015 as in 2014, and analysts don’t see costs changing anytime soon. A nationwide survey of insurers by the Medical Liability Monitor shows that 71% of insurance premiums did not change this year, while 17% of rates rose and 12% fell. Internists experienced an average premium increase of 0.6% in 2015, while general surgeons saw a 0.2% average rate decrease, and ob.gyns experienced an average 0.5% rate increase. The static premium market is being largely driven by the low number of lawsuits filed by patients and family members in recent years, said survey coauthor Paul Greve Jr., executive vice president/senior consultant for the Willis Health Care Practice, a global risk management consultant firm. “It’s amazing to see the continuing stability in claim frequency,” Mr. Greve said in an interview. “The claims counts are just not rising. Its great for the industry, and it’s great for physicians, but it is puzzling because you wonder what has caused what amounts to a sea change in the attitudes of the general public toward malpractice litigation such that the claim counts were drop off.” Premiums continue to vary geographically. Southern Florida internists for example,…

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Nevada justices uphold medical malpractice damages cap

The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday upheld major provisions of the state’s medical malpractice law, overturning a judge who found that a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages was unconstitutional. The unanimous decision, written by Chief Justice James Hardesty, said the state statute in question does not violate a plaintiff’s constitutional right to trial by jury. The court also overturned the lower court determination that the $350,000 cap applied separately to each plaintiff and defendant. Finally the court overturned the finding by Clark County District Judge Jerry Wiese that said the tort reform law applied only to professional negligence and not to medical malpractice. The opinion granted a petition filed by Dr. Stephen Tam related to a medical malpractice case out of Clark County. A lawsuit was filed in 2011 against Tam and others alleging they did not provide proper care to Charles Cornell while he was a patient at Desert Lane Care Center and that he died as a result. Cornell died in 2010 when he was discharged without medication or a prescription for insulin to treat his diabetes. The case has not yet proceeded to trial. Tam asked the Supreme Court to intervene first. Wiese, in a preliminary ruling…

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