Practice Areas

Medical Malpractice Claims Fall To A Record Low In Ohio

By Jennifer R. Becker

The filing of medical malpractice claims in Ohio hit a new low in 2012, the last year for which the numbers were available. The annual Ohio Medical Professional Liability Closed Claim Report from the Ohio Department of Insurance listed 2,733 claims in 2012. The number of medical malpractice claims is the lowest since Ohio began tracking claims in 2005, when there were 5,051. Claims against surgeons, general practice physicians, hospitals and other health care providers have declined since the state adopted tort reform laws in 2003.

The 2012 report discloses that the vast majority of the claims resulted in no payment. About 79% of the claims, or 2,197, had no indemnity payments, while about 21% of the claims, or 576, closed with an indemnity payment. The report also indicates that the total amount paid to claimants was $177,323,025, an average of $307,852 per claim in which an indemnity payment was made.

Although most claims closed with no payments, almost all claims generated expenses for investigation and defense. The number of claims reported to have Allocated Loss Adjustment Expense ("ALAE") was 2,350. These expenses totaled $69,727,192, an average of $29,691 per claim. ALAE and indemnity payments increased with the age of the claim.

Statistics showed that nearly half of the claims came from northeastern Ohio. Of these claims, 21% or 288 resulted in indemnity payments totaling $111,110,756 of the $177,323,025 paid. Northeast Ohio had the highest average paid indemnity of $385,801, which accounted for 63% of the total dollar amount paid to claimants statewide. The breakdown of the average paid indemnity for the remainder of Ohio is: Northwest-$260,021; Southeast-$230,143; Central-$224,320; and Southwest-$219,744.

When breaking down claims by medical specialty, Internal Medicine had the most claims at 131 with 6 resulting in paid indemnity averaging $156,667. For those specialties that were broken down, Cardiovascular Disease had the highest average paid indemnity of $708,505 for 3 claims with payments, out of 38 reported claims. Non-obstetrical medical care, such as failure to treat, delay in treatment, or improper treatment, generated the largest number of claims at 780 with 143 resulting in paid indemnity. Obstetrics-related claims totaled 117, and of these, 35 resulted in indemnity payments averaging $1,129,803, the highest average payment for any type of injury.

A copy of the 2012 Ohio Medical Professional Liability Closed Claim Report can be reviewed at: http:/insurance.ohio.gov/Legal/Reports/Documents/Ohio2012MedicalProfessionalLiabilityClosedClaimReport.p
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Copies of the prior annual reports are available on the Department of Insurance's web site at: www.insurance.ohio.gov.