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Youngest babies account for costliest med mal claims: Insurer

Posted On: Mar. 20, 2019 10:26 AM CST

Premature baby

Babies who are less than a month old account for the highest dollar amount of medical malpractice claims paid, says a survey issued by an insurer Wednesday.

A survey of 1,215 claims filed on behalf of pediatric patients that closed from 2008 through 2017 found that 37% resulted in a payment to the claimant, with the highest amounts paid for neonates, who are patients less than a month old, according to a report issued by The Doctors Co.

The report by the Napa, California-based insurer, which surveyed claims filed against physicians working in 52 specialties and subspecialties, said the median indemnity payment was $250,000 and the mean expense paid was $99,984.

A review by age group showed the median indemnity paid for neonates was $300,000, while the median expense paid was $119,311; for patients 1 month to 11 months old, the median indemnity was $200,000 and the median expense paid was $117,882; for children 1 to 9 years old, the median indemnity was also $200,000 and the median expense was $94,174; and for teenagers, the median indemnity was $162,500 and the median expense was $83,205.

The most common allegation for neonates was obstetrics-related treatment, and was diagnostic related for the remaining age groups.

The survey found that 76.7% of the claims were filed within three years of the event, while 3% were filed more than 10 years after the injury. “This highlights the importance of quality documentation. Years after the alleged harm, it is still a factor in defending claims,” said the survey.

Medical liability insurer Coverys said in a report issued in February that diagnostic errors were the leading type of claims against primary care physicians from 2013 through 2017.