Fewer medical errors, fewer lawsuits

April 17, 2010 at 2:00 AM
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SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 17 (UPI) -- A California study showed that when the number of preventable medical errors declined, so did the number of malpractice lawsuits, researchers said.

Lead author Michael Greenberg, a behavioral scientist at the Rand Corp., analyzed approximately 365,000 preventable medical errors such as post-surgical infections and hospital-acquired infections. They also analyzed approximately 27,000 malpractice claims from 2001 to 2005.

The study found that reducing the number of preventable medical errors in California hospitals from 2001 to 2005 was associated with a corresponding drop in malpractice claims against physicians.

"These findings suggest that putting a greater focus on improving safety performance in healthcare settings could benefit medical providers as well as patients," Greenberg said in a statement.

Study co-author Amelia Haviland, a statistician at the Rand Corp., said that under the model created by researchers, a county that had 10 fewer safety events in a given year could expect to see a drop of 3.7 malpractice claims during that same year.

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