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Study: Never events major factor in hospital liability costs

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Fierce Healthcare reports on new research by insurance firm Aon Corp., that finds hospital-acquired conditions accounted for 12.2 percent of total legal liability costs insured by healthcare facilities in 2007. While many studies have looked at the additional medical costs generated by never events, this research is among the first to actually pin down indirect costs of serious healthcare errors. It’s also perhaps the first study to benchmark claims specific to never events affected by Medicare’s new no-pay policy. (All four of the never events reviewed by Aon are covered by Medicare’s new policy.)

According to the Aon study, one out of six claims against healthcare facilities were related to hospital-acquired infections, injuries, pressure ulcers and foreign objects left in the body after survey in 2007, according to the company’s 2008 Hospital Professional Liability and Physician Liability Benchmark Analysis. Of these, claims for injuries were most frequently reported of four hospital-acquired condition categories. Pressure ulcers were the most expensive for healthcare facilities, which cost them about $145,000 on average for claims per incident in 2007, Aon concluded.

To draw its conclusions, Aon analyzed almost 78,000 claims, relating to a total of $9.3 billion in incurred losses. The data included information from more than 1,200 facilities from 1998 to 2007.

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