Malpractice claims against nurses on the rise

Malpractice claims against nurses have increased in recent years, according to a new report published by the Nurses Service Organization (NSO).

The report examined nurse claims from CNA that closed between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2014. During that five-year period, more than $90 million was paid in malpractice claims against registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses and licensed practical nurses.

Those at the highest risk for malpractice are nurses who were trained outside of the United States and nurses who have more experience. The report found that 85 percent of the claims filed were against nurses who had practiced for at least 16 years, but the largest indemnity payments involved those with no more than five years' experience.

Other highlights from the survey:

  • Average claims costs increased from an average of $151,053 in 2007 to $164,586 in 2015
  • Male nurses had higher paid indemnity amounts, with an average of $55,175 compared to $38,570 for women
  • Retired nurses were at risk for higher indemnity payments, with an average of $78,368, more than twice the average for registered nurses and about $10,000 more than the average for licensed practical/vocational nurses

"The new report empowers nurses with insights into malpractice claims impacting their profession, and equips them with tools to help create a safe environment for nurses and their patients, which may result in more positive outcomes," NSO President Michael Loughran told Property Casualty 360.

The report's risk-reduction strategies include strategic interventions against common causes of patient harms such as patient falls, proactively addressing any potential communication issues within the chain of command and performing timely, accurate assessments of individual patients' health and conditions.

Recent analysis from Pro Publica found scrapping the malpractice system entirely and replacing it with a transparent approach similar to that of nations such as Denmark and New Zealand could save the healthcare system millions of dollars at no cost to patient safety, FierceHealthcare previously reported.  Indeed, fear of malpractice claims is a major driver of diagnostic errors within healthcare.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)
- here's the article