January 8th, 2013
As US health care continues down the path of delivery system transformation, January’s Health Affairs explores areas of opportunities and challenges to achieving better health and better care at lower costs. Other articles focus on a range of topics of interest, including the length of time physicians spend with active and unresolved malpractice claims against them.
Seth Seabury at the RAND Corporation and coauthors report that the average physician spends almost 11 percent of his or her career with an open and unresolved medical claim. A major contributor is the length of the process of adjudicating such claims: The typical medical malpractice claim isn’t filed until almost two years after the incident occurred, and it isn’t resolved until 43 months post incident. When dealing with open claims, physicians spend up to 70 percent of that time with claims that never result in a payment.
Among the various distressing factors involved in this type of adjudication, patients and physicians alike may be more troubled by the length of time of the process than the potential damages, the authors say. They recommend exploring policy solutions that can decrease the time to resolution, including tort reform and alternative dispute management tools that can expedite the process and help limit meritless claims.Read the rest of this entry »