Public and private health sector medical indemnity claims examined in new report

There were about 2,800 new medical indemnity claims arising in the public and private health sectors in 2010-11, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Australia's medical indemnity claims 2010-11, shows that there were 1,500 claims in the public sector and about 1,300 in the private sector.

There were between 1,000 to 1,600 new public sector claims in the previous four years.

The number of private sector claims opened in 2010-11 was similar to the previous two years, but was higher than in 2007-08, when about 1,000 claims were opened.

'Medical indemnity claims arise from allegations of problems in health service provision, and each year the number of public sector claims open at some point is greater than the number of private sector claims', said AIHW spokesperson Alison Verhoeven.

There were 1,400 public sector claims closed and 1,450 private sector claims closed in 2010-11.

When these claims were closed, 53% cost less than $10,000, 25% cost between $10,000 and $100,000, 16% cost between $100,000 and $500,000 and 6% cost $500,000 or more.

In 2010-11, as in previous years, claims associated with alleged incidents in public hospitals/day surgeries were often more costly than claims associated with private medical clinics. They accounted for 75% and 11% respectively of claims closed for $100,000 or more.

Three per cent of public and private sector closed claims were finalised through a court decision, 49% were finalised through a negotiated settlement and 48% were discontinued.

For public sector claims, the length of time between the alleged incident and when the claim opened was typically 1 to 2 years, and 3 to 4 years between the alleged incident and when the claim was closed.

In the public sector and the private sectors combined, 73% of closed claims were finalised within 3 years of being opened, and about 10% took more than 5 years to be finalised.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 11 September 2012 


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