Healthcare Business News

‘Never events’ a factor in liability costs

Posted: September 30, 2008 - 3:00 pm ET

Hospital-acquired conditions accounted for 12.2% of total legal liability costs incurred by healthcare facilities in 2007, according to a new analysis by insurance giant Aon Corp.

In addition, one out of six claims against healthcare facilities were associated with hospital-acquired infections, injuries, pressure ulcers and foreign objects left in the body after surgery in 2007, according to Aon’s 2008 Hospital Professional Liability and Physician Liability Benchmark Analysis. Claims for injuries were the most frequent of the four hospital-acquired condition categories. Costs of claims associated with pressure ulcers were the most expensive for healthcare facilities, which paid about $145,000 on average in claims for that condition in 2007, according to the report.

This is the first year Aon has benchmarked claims specific to hospital-acquired conditions. Beginning Oct. 1, the CMS will stop paying for 11 conditions it deems preventable by hospitals, or “never events”; all four of the conditions reviewed by Aon are part of the new Medicare reimbursement policy. Aon will track whether liability costs associated with never events increase as Medicare’s nonpayment policy continues, the company said in its report.

Aon analyzed nearly 78,000 claims with a total $9.3 billion of incurred losses for its professional liability report, which included information from more than 1,200 facilities that provided loss and exposure data. The professional liability database contains historical claims information from 1998 to 2007. -- by Jean DerGurahian

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