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New Report Identifies Malpractice Risks of Medication-Related Errors

Medicine-SF
May 31, 2017

Medication-related errors are common, can cause high-severity injuries, and may be costly. Many organizations have made reducing these errors top priority, including the World Health Organization (WHO), which recently launched a global effort to halve medication-related errors in 5 years. A new report issued by CRICO Strategies, Medication-Related Malpractice Risks, examines the impact—financial and human—and root causes of medication-related errors.

According to the study, 32 percent of medication-related malpractice cases involve a patient death, compared with 18 percent of all other cases. Primary care providers and hospital-based nurses are particularly at risk.

Every medical malpractice case presents unique circumstances, but a collection of similar cases can reveal a common story of what goes wrong. This report analyzed medical malpractice claims from CRICO Strategies' Comparative Benchmarking System (CBS)—a database of deeply coded medical malpractice claims representing more than $25 billion in reserves and losses. CBS reflects the medical professional liability experience of more than 400 hospitals and healthcare entities and 165,000 physicians from commercial and captive insurers nationwide, representing approximately 30 percent of all US medical malpractice claims.

For the complete analysis, download the CBS report: Medication-Related Malpractice Risks.

Mark E. Reynolds, president and CEO of CRICO, said, "The national Comparative Benchmarking System enables us to examine thousands of cases, providing credible findings that can be considered for all caregivers who prescribe, administer, or manage medications. Our analyses are powered by information captured directly from the patient’s medical record as well as legal documents, extracting a broad range of systemic and human factors underlying each case."

Each step in a medication process—ordering, dispensing, administering, and managing—presents unique risks to providers and their patients, and the 11 percent of cases in which the patient experienced failures in multiple steps demonstrate how intertwined the process can become. Heather Riah, chief operating officer of CRICO, said, "In between getting everything right and having something go terribly wrong, patients and providers are encountering a vast array of medication-related errors. Most will not trigger a lawsuit, but all have short- or long-term consequences for patients and providers."

CRICO Strategies is a division of the Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions Incorporated, a CRICO company. The CRICO insurance program is a group of companies owned by and serving the Harvard medical community, with an established reputation as a leader in evidence-based risk and claims management. Established in 1998, Strategies extends CRICO's patient safety mission through broad dissemination of products and services designed to reduce medical errors and malpractice exposure. For more information, visit the CRICO Strategies website.

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