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Of medical malpractice and safety -- and what the connection portends

April 15, 2010 | 10:07 am

Surely, improved hospital safety would lead to fewer malpractice claims, yes? Perhaps, perhaps not. We've had little evidence either way. Enter the Rand Corp.

Researchers there have offered up their analysis of the connection, based on California's experiences. They say that a county with a decrease of 10 adverse events would see 3.7 fewer malpractice claims. Similary, an increase of 10 events would suggest 3.7 more malpractice claims.

From the Rand report's conclusion:

Arguments about the merits of statutory tort intervention will surely continue in the future,
but to the extent that improved safety performance can be shown to have a demonstrable
impact on malpractice claims, that offers another focal point for policymakers in seeking to
address the malpractice crisis. Based on the results of the current study, we would suggest that that focal point may be more immediately relevant than has previously been recognized.

Here's the full report: Is Better Patient Safety Associated with Less Malpractice Activity? Evidence from California. For a shorter version, go to the summary.

-- Tami Dennis

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