Medical Malpractice Claims profile in private practice

Medical malpractice claims are a significant issue in the healthcare industry globally, and the United Kingdom (UK) is no exception. In the UK, medical malpractice claims are primarily handled by the National Health Service (NHS), which is a publicly funded healthcare system.


March 3, 2023

However, there is also a significant number of medical malpractice claims in the private healthcare sector.

According to a report from an array of indemnifiers, the number of medical malpractice claims in the private sector has been steadily increasing over the years. In 2019, there were 1,158 claims reported, a 10% increase from the previous year. The report also revealed that the number of claims has been increasing at an average annual rate of 10.5% between 2010 and 2019.

Specialties with the highest amount of claims

The report also highlighted the specialties with the highest amount of claims in the private sector. The top three specialties with the highest number of claims were orthopaedics, general surgery, and obstetrics and gynaecology. The reason why these specialties have the highest amount of claims is due to the complexity of the procedures involved and the potential risks associated with them.

Orthopaedics, for instance, involves surgical procedures that are aimed at treating musculoskeletal conditions such as fractures, joint replacements, and spinal surgery. These procedures are complex and require high levels of skill and expertise. When things go wrong, patients are more likely to file a malpractice claim.

General surgery, on the other hand, deals with a range of surgical procedures involving the abdomen, including the digestive tract, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The high-risk nature of these procedures means that patients are more likely to file a malpractice claim if something goes wrong.

Obstetrics and gynaecology is another specialty with a high amount of claims in the private sector. This specialty deals with pregnancy, childbirth, and female reproductive health. This specialty is high-risk due to the potential for complications during pregnancy and childbirth, which could lead to adverse outcomes for the mother and the baby.

What other influences are important to consider?

  1. Types of claims:
    The most common types of claims in the private sector are related to surgery, misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, medication errors, and poor communication

  2. Cost of claims:
    Medical malpractice claims can be expensive, with some cases resulting in settlements of millions of pounds. The MPS report noted that the total cost of claims in the private sector was £275 million in 2019.
  3. Impact on healthcare providers:
    Medical malpractice claims can have a significant impact on healthcare providers, both financially and reputation-wise. In addition to the cost of settlements, providers may also face increased insurance premiums and reputational damage.
  4. Role of technology:
    Technology is increasingly being used in healthcare to improve patient outcomes and reduce the risk of malpractice claims. For example, electronic health records can help healthcare providers to avoid medication errors and improve communication with patients.
  5. Legal framework: The legal framework around medical malpractice claims in the UK is complex and can vary depending on the type of claim and the circumstances involved. Patients can pursue claims through the courts or through the NHS Resolution, which handles claims against the NHS.
  6. Patient safety initiatives: There are several patient safety initiatives in the UK aimed at reducing the risk of malpractice claims. These include the National Reporting and Learning System, which collects and analyzes patient safety incident reports, and the Care Quality Commission, which regulates healthcare providers and ensures they meet safety standards.
  7. Impact of COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the healthcare sector, with many providers facing unprecedented challenges. While it is still too early to assess the full impact of the pandemic on medical malpractice claims, there are concerns that the increased workload and pressure on healthcare providers may lead to an increase in claims.

Claims trend going into 2023 and 2024.

It is difficult to predict the exact trend of medical malpractice claims going into 2023 and 2024, but it is likely that the number of claims will continue to increase. This is due to a number of factors, including increased awareness of patients' rights, the growth of the private healthcare sector, and the complexity of medical procedures.

To mitigate the risk of malpractice claims, healthcare providers must prioritize patient safety by implementing best practices, regular training, and ongoing education to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. Healthcare providers should also ensure that they have adequate insurance cover to protect themselves against malpractice claims.

In conclusion, medical malpractice claims in the private sector in the UK are increasing, and the specialties with the highest amount of claims are orthopaedics, general surgery, and obstetrics and gynaecology. Healthcare providers should prioritize patient safety and take steps to mitigate the risk of malpractice claims.

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At Medicas, we use our clinical expertise to provide clients with clear, concise, and supportive information to help them make the best decisions in clinical practice. Supported by our clinical and legal panels, we aim to educate and raise awareness within clinical communities.

As a specialist Lloyds broker focusing on healthcare, we provide clients with bespoke insurances in Medical Malpractice, Medical Liabilities, and Life-Sciences. Our risk-managed led approach ensures our clients benefit from risk-mitigating relationships and strategies.

To learn more about how Medicas can help you with your Indemnity or Risk management, get in touch with Dr. Edwin Rajadurai or our specialist team.

NB: This article is not intended to replace any legal advice or responsibilities that you may have. This article is posted for educational purposes only.

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