After 10 years of decreases in hospital professional liability claims, the frequency of claims is on the rise and is expected to continue increasing at a 1 percent annual rate, according to a study by Aon Corp. in conjunction with the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management, an American Hospital Association personal membership group.

The analysis examined trends in frequency, severity and overall loss costs related to hospital and physician professional liability. The study attributes the rise in claims to the economic downturn, changes to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reimbursement rules regarding so-called "never events" and changes in public sympathy toward providers.

The study also found:

  • In 2010, hospital loss costs per occupied bed equivalent, a major part of the total cost of risk, are expected to increase 5 percent annually to $3,170.
  • One of four claims and 24 percent of liability costs are associated with health care-associated conditions such as infections and injuries, medication errors, objects left in surgery, and pressure ulcers.

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