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Anesthesia-related medical malpractice claims decrease

According to a 2015 study, medical malpractice payments stemming from lawsuits against anesthesiologists have decreased significantly in Oklahoma and nationwide over the past several years. The research, which was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, found that spending on such medical malpractice claims fell from $174.4 million in 2005 to $91.1 million in 2013.

Researchers used data from the National Practitioner Data Bank to look at changes in outpatient and inpatient malpractice claims related to anesthesia between 2005 and 2013, including changes in payment size, clinical outcome and patient demographics. They found that of 2,408 anesthesia-related payments during that period, 76.5 percent involved inpatient cases and 23.5 percent involved outpatient cases. Malpractice payments decreased by 45.5 percent for inpatient cases and 24.3 percent for outpatient cases. The average cost of each anesthesia malpractice claim was $245,000, with inpatient claims costing more than outpatient claims. However, the number of outpatient claims jumped due to the increase in outpatient surgeries.

As for the clinical outcomes behind the medical malpractice claims, death was the top result in both inpatient and outpatient settings. However, outpatient lawsuits were more likely to involve claims of minor injury than inpatient suits. Researchers suggested that payments have decreased because hospitals are getting better at risk management.

An anesthesia error can put a patient’s life at risk. Oklahoma families who have lost a loved one due to an error by a negligent anesthesiologist may want to speak with a medical malpractice attorney to see if filing a medical professional negligence claim against the responsible health care professional and facility would be an appropriate method of seeking compensation for their losses.