Report Shows Better Patient Safety Practices Lead to Fewer Medical Malpractice Claims
A California study by the Rand Corporation shows that a concerted effort to improve patient safety leads to a decline in medical malpractice claims. “These findings suggest that putting a greater focus on improving safety performance in health care settings could benefit medical providers as well as patients,” said Michael Greenberg, the study’s lead author and a behavioral scientist with Rand Corporation.
The Rand study is an important one in the on-going debate over healthcare reform. Patient safety advocates have argued for years that an aggressive effort to improve the quality and safety of healthcare would lead to fewer medical malpractice claims.
According to a Rand Corporation press release announcing the study’s findings, “The link between safety performance among health care providers and malpractice suits has been of central interest to policymakers in the ongoing debate over health care reform. The RAND study is the first to demonstrate a link between improving performance on 20 well-established indicators of medical safety outcomes and lower medical malpractice claims.
Researchers analyzed information for approximately 365,000 adverse safety events, such as post-surgical problems and hospital-acquired infections, and for approximately 27,000 malpractice claims, all of which occurred during 2001-2005. The researchers found considerable variation among California’s counties, in both the frequency of adverse events and of malpractice claims.
More important, the study found a significant connection between the annual frequency of adverse events in each county, and the number of malpractice claims made. For example, under the model created by researchers, a county that experienced 10 fewer safety events in a given year would also expect to see a reduction of 3.7 malpractice claims during the same year, said study co-author Amelia Haviland, a RAND statistician.”