At the RIMS Conference next week, I will be a panelist in the health care industry session, presenting on patient safety in obstetrics—and I thought I’d share a preview of it with you.
While there is little question that the current health care professional liability (HPL) environment is perhaps the best it has ever been, the largest verdicts and settlements continue to occur in obstetrics and pediatrics.
The plaintiff’s bar advertises for these types of cases because non-economic damage caps help minimally when life care plans for neurologically impaired children can cost multiple millions of dollars. These types of cases are difficult to defend due to the sympathy factor even when the facts are favorable to the defense.
Obstetric cases are a major concern for all underwriters but especially hospital carriers and reinsurers. Some of the largest, indeed “jumbo,” verdicts over the past 18 months have occurred in obstetric cases—including two verdicts exceeding $50 million.
What Hospitals Can Do
What are some of the steps that hospitals and health care systems are taking to mitigate obstetrical risk? Some of the most notable include:
- Patient simulation labs: physicians and nurses can practice obstetric techniques on mannequins
- Training in improved interpretation of electronic fetal monitoring by physicians and nurses
- Team training: physicians and nurses are trained to improve communication and response to obstetrical emergencies
- Creation of protocols, policies and procedures in labor and delivery suites consistent with national standards as promulgated by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG)
- Bedside clinical informatics: technology that reduces obstetrical risk and demonstrably prevents malpractice claims by providing timely clinical information to physicians and nurses in the labor and delivery suite
Our RIMS Healthcare Industry session panel is scheduled for Monday 4/16/12 from 2-4 PM. Patient safety in obstetrics will highlight the last point above.
It is exciting that technology exists today that will help mitigate obstetrical risk. The company that has created this cutting-edge technology, PeriGen, is a strategic business partner of the Willis Health Care Practice.