To Err Is Human — the 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine — served as a major catalyst for innovations in patient safety that are still playing out today. It launched initiatives that were revolutionary for their time and held great promise as avenues for change, such as: team training, high-reliability, human factors engineering, Lean and Six Sigma, systems thinking, simulation, and just culture. Despite widespread adoption and commitment to these strategies, challenges to improved patient safety continue to surface.
 
Coverys’ report — A Call for Action: Insights From a Decade of Malpractice Claims — explores how efforts in the decade following the 10-year anniversary of To Err Is Human have not delivered optimal results. Our review of 10 years of claims data (2010 to 2019) makes us ask an obvious question: Why haven’t we made more progress to improve patient safety? We continue to see high numbers of claims in largely the same areas. In some ways, our report is a call for action to make a greater, and more effective, investment in a safer healthcare delivery model.

General Claim Trends 

General claim trends suggest only modest gains in patient safety over the 10-year period. Patients continue to experience high-severity injury outcomes, and clinicians and organizations are seeing increasingly high financial payouts. Below are some key claim trends identified in the report: 

Despite lower claim rates, average indemnity and expenses are trending upward.

          



Data derived from 11,907 events pertaining to 20,211 closed claims at Coverys across a 10-year period from 2010 to 2019. Coverys. (2020). A call for action: Insights from a decade of malpractice claims.  https://www.coverys.com/PDFs/call-for-action-decade-of-malpractice-claims.aspx 

Injury Severity

Patients exhibit complex conditions that need to be managed in an increasingly complex environment. New technology and equipment should make life easier for healthcare providers and facilities, but they have also brought new challenges. Despite significant innovations of the past decade, the negative and lasting impact of injuries has remained fairly constant. Events involving high-severity and death account for 33% of claims with little variability in the distribution from year to year. 



Data derived from 11,907 events pertaining to 20,211 closed claims at Coverys across a 10-year period from 2010 to 2019. Coverys. (2020). A call for action: Insights from a decade of malpractice claims.  https://www.coverys.com/PDFs/call-for-action-decade-of-malpractice-claims.aspx 

Physicians With Multiple Claims 

Physicians who experience more than one claim during a given time period represent a unique subset of defendants. The charts below show the percentage of physicians who had more than one claim during our 10-year evaluation period. Surgery and obstetrics comprise the highest percentage of specialists with multiple claims, and 63% of surgical claims involve a surgeon with multiple claims. 






Data derived from 11,907 events pertaining to 20,211 closed claims at Coverys across a 10-year period from 2010 to 2019. Coverys. (2020). A call for action: Insights from a decade of malpractice claims. https://www.coverys.com/PDFs/call-for-action-decade-of-malpractice-claims.aspx 

For more detailed information including: top claim trends, claim trends by specialty (including allegations, injury severity, location), persistent and emerging risks, and top risk management issues, access the full report: A Call for Action: Insights From a Decade of Malpractice Claims.