Never Events Responsible for Every Sixth Claim

The 2008 Hospital Professional Liability and Physician Liability
Benchmark Analysis
released Monday September 29, 2008 found that hospital-acquired infections, hospital-acquired injuries, objects left in the body after surgery and pressure ulcers represent more than 12% of hospitals’ liability costs and one out of every six claims. The study, a joint effort between Aon Corp. and the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management, both based in Chicago, was created to give health care risk managers a better understanding of their cost of risk compared to an industry benchmark. This year marked the first time the study included data on hospital-acquired illnesses, the goal being to establish a benchmark against which future liability costs for such ailments could be compared. More than 100 health care organizations, representing more than 1,200 facilities of all sizes, provided loss and exposure data to the study. In commenting upon the study results Aon noted that health care organizations can better manage their liability concerns by looking at trends in frequency, severity and total loss costs. Several insurers no longer will reimburse providers for 10 categories of hospital-acquired conditions and medical errors (several of which are included in the categories mentioned above, known as “never events” because they are considered preventable and should never happen. The withdrawal of insurance coverage for never events should provide a sharp impetus for systems reform in health care facilities which will now be exposed to direct tort liabilty for claims which insurers no longer have a tolerance for given their frequency and needlessness.

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