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Patient satisfaction keeps med mal claims steady

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Health care organizations across the country have shown consistently flat costs in medical malpractice suits, and a benchmark study reports there may be a link between the perceived quality of care and the cost of professional liability.

The 16th edition of Aon P.L.C. and American Society for Health Care Risk Management's Hospital and Physician Professional Liability Benchmark Analysis report, released Tuesday, reports that medical malpractice claims have a relationship with patients' expectations.

Aggregated data in a report that provides risk managers with industry insights and points of comparison for professional liability claim costs, shows patients who report they are very satisfied with services as less likely to file a medical malpractice claim. When not satisfied, statistics show they are more likely to file a claim, according to the report. “There seems to be a link between patient satisfaction and the amount of malpractice claims we are seeing,” said Erik Johnson, Aon Corporation's Raleigh, North Carolina-based associate director and actuary, during the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management's 2015 conference in Indianapolis.

The report also shows that health care systems continue to be at a higher risk of data breaches than other organizations, largely because of the high value of health care records. “Health care records are worth five times as much as credit cards on the black market,” said Baltimore-based Virginia Jones, actuarial consultant at Aon Global Consulting and a co-author of the report. Patient information makes it easy to create false identities that can be used to purchase medical equipment and drugs or to make phony insurance claims, while credit card companies can quickly cancel stolen cards, the report said.

According to a 2014 Redspin report, hackingincidents accounted for 53.4% of all health care records stolen, Ms. Jones said “Software patches that are improperly placed or an application such as one made to mass hack with the distribution of a word doc attached in an email, or user error if someone lost a computer without a complex password, all three of these can lead to a data breach,” Ms. Jones said in the conference.

This study, available online, also provides benchmark frequency and severity measures for four specific hospital departments, including obstetrics, emergency, behavioral healthand rehabilitation units, according to a Chicago Aon P.L.C. news release.