ABOUT 60% of all medical indemnity claims occurred in the public sector in 2007–08, and obstetricians and gynaecologists and GPs were the most likely specialists to have claims made against them, according to a report released last week by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). (1)

The report, Public and private sector medical indemnity claims in Australia 2007–08, said 97% of claims occurred in a public hospital or day surgery, with fewer than 2% in community health centres and residential aged care.

Of the total 8555 claims open in the period, there were 1439 involving obstetrics and gynaecology and 1419 involving general practice.

The report presents results from the Medical Indemnity National Collection (MINC), a body established by federal and state governments in 2005 to manage the development and administration of medical indemnity data in the public and private sectors.

The AIHW report is the fourth in a series that started with figures from 2004–05.

The 2007–08 report is the first to publish data on the number of claims that were open, including new claims, closed claims and ongoing claims. It showed that of the 8555 open claims, 2776 (32%) occurred in private health services including private hospitals or day surgeries, and private medical clinics.

Procedures were the most common incident that led to a claim, accounting for 27% of all claims, followed by diagnosis (about 20% of claims) and treatment (14%).

The report found that in the clinical specialties of general surgery, orthopaedic surgery and obstetrics and gynaecology, the proportion of claims for procedures was two–three times higher than the total number of claims for those specialties. For example, with procedure-related claims, 32% were associated with obstetrics and gynaecology, but 17% of total claims related to O&G.

Emergency medicine also had a relatively high proportion of claims for diagnosis-related incidents. It had 25% of all diagnosis-related incidents compared with just 8% of all claims.

In the case of incidents related to general duty of care, psychiatry and general nursing attracted the highest proportion of claims.

Consent incidents comprised a small proportion of the claims made, except in private hospitals and day surgeries, where it was associated with 10% of all claims.

More than two-thirds of the 2668 claims that were closed were for less than $10 000, including 1070 closed for no payment. Only 68 claims were settled for more than $500 000, including 15 in obstetrics and gynaecology and 11 in general practice.

– Kath Ryan

1. Public and private sector medical indemnity claims in Australia 2007-08. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011


Posted 14 March 2011

3 thoughts on “GPs and O

  1. Anonymous says:

    Considering that GPs see about 80% of the patient population and are paid only about 20% of the health care budget, it will be costly for the GPs.

  2. ARC says:

    Given the current number of advertisments from the legal profession on radio & television looking for clients wishing to lodge claims against the medical profession, I would caution all practitioners to exercise utmost care and advise patients of all and every possible outcome of treatments, especially surgical.
    Ambulance-chasing lawyers need not be given extra incentives!

  3. Horst Herb says:

    These raw statistics are misleading unless seen in the context of claims per patient encounters. Data has to be interpreted in a meaningful context.

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