This report presents information from the Medical Indemnity National Collection for 2008–09. It describes characteristics and costs for public and private sector medical indemnity claims.
There were 9,173 medical indemnity claims open at some point between July 2008 and June 2009. This included over 2,600 new claims opened during the period, and almost 3,100 claims that were closed during the period. There were similar numbers of new claims in the public and private sectors (1,291 and 1,334 respectively). The public sector had more closed claims, and claims overall (1,867 and 5,072 respectively) than the private sector (1,226 and 4,101 respectively).
More claims were reported for 2008–09 than 2007–08. In 2007–08 there were 2,255 new claims, 2,675 closed claims and 8,555 claims overall.
Cost, duration and mode of claim finalisation
Nearly two-thirds (66%) of closed claims were settled for less than $10,000, including 30% where no payment was made. Just 4% were settled for $500,000 or more. Approximately 70% of closed claims were finalised within 3 years of being opened, compared with 9% that took more than 5 years to be settled.
Just 6% were finalised through a court decision, compared with 29% finalised through a negotiated settlement with the claimant. The remaining 65% were discontinued (for instance, following the claimant’s withdrawal of the claim).
Similar proportions were recorded for 2007–08 medical indemnity claims.
The incidents and who was involved
As in previous years, the most common allegation for loss in 2008−09 related to Procedure—for example, failure of procedure or post-operative complications (28% of claims)—followed by Diagnosis (21% of claims) and Treatment (16% of claims).
The most common allegation of harm was Neuromusculoskeletal and movement-related, accounting for 19% of claims. Allegations of Mental and nervous system effects (15%), Death (13%) and Genitourinary and reproductive effects (10%) were also commonly reported. Similar proportions were recorded for 2007–08 medical indemnity claims.
Almost two-thirds of allegedly affected patients were adults (65% of claims), with female patients outnumbering males. In the case of babies (less than 1 year old) and persons 1–17 years old, the patient was more often male than female. Where the claim subject was a baby, the majority of claims (53%) were associated with Mental and nervous system effects.
About one-third of 2008–09 claims alleged the involvement of the clinical specialties General practice (20% of claims) or Obstetrics and Gynaecology (16% of claims). The proportions for 2007–08 were similar (17% of claims in both cases).
Just over half of claims (52%) related to alleged incidents in a public sector health setting, such as a public hospital. Most other claims (38%) related to incidents alleged to have occurred in a private sector setting, for example, a private medical clinic.