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Similar Number for Outpatient, Inpatient Malpractice Claims

Last Updated: June 14, 2011.

The number of paid malpractice claims is similar in both inpatient and outpatient settings, according to a study published in the June 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

TUESDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- The number of paid malpractice claims is similar in both inpatient and outpatient settings, according to a study published in the June 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Tara F. Bishop, M.D., M.P.H., from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, and colleagues compared the number, magnitude, and type of malpractice claims paid on behalf of physicians in inpatient and outpatient settings from 2005 through 2009. Trends in claims paid by each setting, characteristics of paid claims, and factors associated with payment amount were evaluated. The number of paid claims, mean and median payment amount, and types and outcome of errors were measured.

The investigators identified 10,739 paid malpractice claims in 2009, including 4,910 claims for inpatient, 4,448 claims for outpatient, and 966 claims for both settings. A small but, significant increase in the proportion of payments in the outpatient setting was seen from 2005 to 2009 (41.7 to 43.1 percent). The most common reason for a paid claim was diagnostic (45.9 percent) in outpatient setting and surgical (34.1 percent) in the inpatient setting. Both settings had major injury and death as the two most common outcomes. Average payments made were significantly higher in the inpatient setting as compared to outpatient ($362,965 versus $290,111).

"We found that the number of paid malpractice claims in each setting is similar and that the average payment amount, although higher in the inpatient setting, was approximately $300,000 in the outpatient setting," the authors write.

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