In 2005, medical malpractice insurers in Missouri recorded a positive underwriting result for the second consecutive year and the highest recorded number of new claims filed, according to the 2005 Medical Malpractice Insurance Report’s findings.
Although the findings of this report represent a majority of the medical malpractice insurance market, the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration (DIFP) estimates that between 15 and 20 percent of all medical malpractice claims are not reported.
Fortunately, legislation enacted in August 2006 will enhance the validity of this report in the future. Historically, the Department has had limited regulatory control over surplus lines insurers and self insureds. However, the medical malpractice reform legislation will give the Department a measure of oversight for self-insureds and surplus lines. These entities now are required to report claims data in the same manner as other malpractice insurers.
The report also noted that newly reported claims for all practitioners are the highest recorded with the Department at 2,425 new claims. The timing of the 2005 claims suggests that the large increase is related to the implementation of tort reform legislation that went into effect on Aug. 28, 2005. Most claims appear to have been filed before this date to be eligible for the old non-economic damages cap. The old cap was $579,000 which was annually adjusted for inflation, but with new legislation, the cap changed to $350,000 with no adjustment for inflation.
“These reforms will give the department better tools to monitor the stability of the medical malpractice insurance market in Missouri,” said Dale Finke, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration. “In the coming years, we will learn more about the effects of these reforms. We believe that these changes will hold down escalating medical malpractice premiums in Missouri, encourage more health care professionals to practice in our state and improve access to health care for Missouri’s consumers.”
Other highlights of the 2005 Medical Malpractice Report:
The average award per paid claim increased slightly in 2005 to $253,304, following sharp increases in the past three years with average payments totaling $207,440 in 2002, $211,446 in 2003 and $252,043 in 2004. The average award paid per claim by physicians and surgeons, excluding other practitioners such as dentists, nurses, and clinics and hospitals, increased from $286,885 in 2004 to $300,931 in 2005.
The most prevalent of alleged medical errors leading to a malpractice award were error/improper performance (46.9 percent), failure to treat (21.1 percent), delay in performance (4.4 percent), improper/illegal behavior (1.9 percent), communication and supervision (1.3 percent) unnecessary procedure/treatment (0.4 percent) and continuity of care (0.4 percent).
After increasing for three consecutive years, the number of closed claims reported declined from 1,844 to 1,699. Claims closed with payment declined from 523 to 478 in 2005. For physicians and surgeons, excluding other practitioners such as dentists, nurses, and clinics and hospitals, closed claims declined from 898 to 822 in 2005.
The entire report is available at www.insurance.mo.gov by following the “Reports” link.
Source: Missouri DIFP
Was this article valuable?
Here are more articles you may enjoy.