Medical malpractice claims in Ohio hit a new low in 2012, according to a new report.
The annual Ohio Medical Professional Liability Closed Claim Report from the Ohio Department of Insurance showed 2,733 claims in 2012, the last year for which the numbers were available. The vast majority of the claims resulted in no payment.
The report says a total of $177.3 million was paid to 576 claimants, an average of $307,852 apiece, according to The Columbus Dispatch, which reported the figures.
Nearly four out of five claims resulted in no malpractice payment. But in almost all cases, money was awarded for investigation and defense costs, averaging $29,691 per case, the report said.
Claims against surgeons, general practice physicians and other medical personnel have declined since the state adopted tort reform laws in 2003. The 2012 numbers were the lowest since Ohio began tracking claims in 2005, when there were 5,051.
Statistics showed that more than half of the claims came from 14 counties in northeastern Ohio, accounting for $111.1 million of the $177.3 million awarded.
Non-obstetrical medical care, such as failure to treat or delayed or improper treatment, generated the largest number of claims – 780 – while obstetrics claims showed the highest payments, averaging more than $1.1 million.
Legal wrangling over lawsuits and settlements in medical malpractice cases reached a tipping point when the General Assembly passed the 2003 bill. The law capped non-economic damages, commonly known as “pain and suffering” awards, at $500,000 per occurrence. Other changes followed.