The medical malpractice insurance market has stabilized following escalating medical malpractice costs that caused a downturn in the market from 1999 – 2003, according to the 2006 Medical Malpractice Report recently released by the Governor’s office.
In 2005, Gov. Blunt and lawmakers supported and enacted lawsuit reform to address the health care crisis that was driving doctors out of the state at the expense of patients in need of care. The report shows that the reform efforts have resulted in improved medical malpractice operations for the third consecutive year, the governor’s office said in its release.
The medical malpractice report includes sections regarding the nature and substance of malpractice occurrences, allegations and health outcomes to prepare for additional data being collected for next year’s report. Newly passed legislation requires self-insured and surplus lines claims data be reported to the department in the same manner as other malpractice insurers. This legislation will enhance the validity of this report in the future by ensuring what was previously not reported or underreported is now accessible to the department.
Some of the highlights of the 2006 Medical Malpractice Report:
Newly reported claims declined by 61 percent from 2,822 claims in 2005 to 1,113 in 2006, reaching the lowest recorded in the department’s database.
Total closed claims increased from 1,799 to 2,292 between 2005 and 2006, a 27 percent increase.
Average tort claim settlements declined for a second consecutive year. Between 2005 and 2006, average awards declined by 13.8 percent, from $246,775 to $212,658.
Source: Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration