The severity of hospital professional liability claims rose for the eighth consecutive year in 2013.
This is the finding of new research by Beazley, an insurer that maintains a claims database covering 39 percent of US hospital beds.
The finding comes as fears grow that more states may soon join Missouri and Florida in rolling back tort reform measures that have, to some extent, restrained the cost of the largest claims.
Beazley confirmed that the cost of the average hospital professional liability (HPL) claim rose 2 percent in 2013 to $492,000. This was a slower rate of growth than the previous year, when the average claim cost rose by 6 percent.
"In recent years, we have seen some convergence between the severity of claims in states that have enacted tort reform and those that haven't," said Steve Chang, team leader for healthcare claims at Beazley. "That doesn't mean to say, however, that tort reform has had no impact on the severity of claims. In 2013, the average severity of closed claims in tort reform states was $71,000 lower than in states that had enacted no such measures. If California takes the same path as Missouri and Florida, it is likely that severity will increase."
Beazley, US, Steve Chang