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Malpractice premiums decline for third straight year

Medscape Medical News reported on October 11 that for the third year in a row, medical malpractice premiums had declined.  It cited the Medical Liability Monitor.  MLM purportedly tracks "hundreds of malpractice rates charged by multiple carriers on a local level."  The publication claims that lawsuit frequency began to decline 7 years ago and continued through 2010.  It also pointed out that "An overstressed healthcare system is more open to mistakes, and mistakes lead to lawsuits."  The publication also discussed previous results relating to a survey of the cause of malpractice lawsuits, finding that the leading cause was errors in diagnosis.  According to risk managers and attorneys who defend these claims, "many of the claims could have been avoided...if physicians had concentrated on 'the basics'--communcating better with patients and each other, promoting proper documentation, following a diagnosis through to a conclusion, and not practicing beyond their ability and training."  According to a defense malpractice attorney from Washington, D.C., "Sadly, a lot of these cases are self-inflicted wounds...the physicians might not have been sued or could have won the case with better documentation and bedside manner."

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