Decreasing malpractice claims by reducing preventable perinatal harm.
Improving patient safety provides an opportunity to reduce malpractice claims and associated costs, particularly in higher risk clinical areas such as obstetrics. This study examined medical malpractice claims and cost data in the perinatal units of hospitals before and after implementation of safety interventions focused on decreasing perinatal harm. Interventions consisted largely of standardizing best practices and implementing team training. Investigators found that improving perinatal safety led to substantial reductions in both the frequency and total cost of malpractice claims. The role that the medical liability system plays in driving up health care costs and in promoting the practice of defensive medicine—which can lead to adverse events through unnecessary tests and procedures—was highlighted in a past WebM&M commentary.