The overall rate of medical malpractice cases has been steadily declining for more than a decade while the average cost of resolving those cases has climbed, dramatically so in some jurisdictions. Aside from those trends, the profile of those events that do result in claims remains fairly static.
The who, what, where, and why of medical professional liability (MPL) claims and lawsuits asserted from 2012-2016 are quite similar to those asserted from 2017-2021. In large part, this is because MPL trends generally align with patient interaction frequency and clinical complexity, for example, diagnosis and surgical procedures dominate both health care encounters and MPL cases. Likewise, as the general population ages, so do issues related to caring for more elderly patients.
Drawing from the robust Candello MPL database, here are some key aspects of the national MPL profile when comparing cases from 2012-2016 to cases from 2017-2021.
Increases in the percentages of cases involving patient falls or alleging inadequate monitoring are likely a significant driver of the jump for nursing-related cases in the most recent five-year period, as nursing is the predominant responsible service aligned with those issues. Also worth noting is that the vast majority of the events that triggered the MPL cases included in this overview occurred prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases from the next five-year period may well have a profile notably altered by COVID’s impact on care and malpractice allegations.