Current cost of medical negligence in NHS hospitals: analysis of claims database.
Fenn P., Diacon S., Gray A., Hodges R., Rickman N.
OBJECTIVES: To identify trends in the incidence and cost of clinical negligence claims. To determine the current annual cost to the NHS as a whole in terms of cash paid out to patients and their solicitors and the defence costs incurred. DESIGN: Analysis of records on database. SETTING: A well defined group of hospitals within one health authority which collected information on a consistent basis over many years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Data on individual claims. Trends in incidence of claims and costs identified independently from organisational reforms and changes in accounting practices. RESULTS: The rate of litigation increased from 0.46 to 0.81 closed claims per 1000 finished consultant episodes between 1990 and 1998. Overall expenditure on clinical negligence by the NHS in England in 1998 was estimated at 84 pound sterling million (95% confidence interval 48 pound sterling million to 130 pound sterling million). CONCLUSIONS: After adjustment for hospital activity, the rate of closed claims increased during the 1990s by about 7% per annum, a substantial rate of growth but not the uncontrolled explosion sometimes alluded to in the wider media. More coordination and openness are needed in data collection.