Patient safety and malpractice claims

The RAND Institute for Civil Justice issued a report on the correlation between patient safety in hospitals and malpractice claims against physicians and facilities. The study focused on California, examining safety data for hospitals from 2001 through 2005. The team used the inpatient database for California from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project HCUP and applied Patient Safety Indicators PSIs to the dataset. PSIs consist of 20 classes of events and complications potentially harmful to patients. Researchers analyzed approximately 365,000 adverse safety events and 27,000 malpractice claims. Among the report's conclusions:
Ultimately, it would be desirable to link specific safety practices and interventions not only to bottom-line improvements in safety outcomes for patients, but also to reductions in malpractice activity against providers—an aim that has recently been identified by the President as a target for new large-scale demonstration projects (White House, 2009a). In turn, improved safety practices and quality in the delivery of care could provide a reward to the provider community, in the form of reduced malpractice activity and costs, perhaps thereby spurring further investigation of new safety interventions and avenues for improving care.

Is Better Patient Safety Associated with Less Malpractice Activity? Evidence from California, April 15, 2010
      Technical Report (pdf, 39pp/768kB)
      Summary (pdf, 6pp/180kB)
      Research Brief (pdf, 3pp/84kB)
      News release



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