May 14, 2011

According to the official 2009 Missouri Medical Malpractice Insurance Report, 2009 was a very good year for medical malpractice insurance companies in Missouri —   they were profitable for the sixth straight year, with the total of payments for claims, loss adjustments, and administrative costs representing 77.6% of the premiums earned. 

Claim payments declined from $126.6 million to $38.5 million between 2004 and 2008 (however, in 2009 they increased to $67.7 million). The expenses for defense costs and adjustment expenses for settling claims decreased from $81.2 million to $39.4 million between 2005 to 2008, and decreased to $36.2 million in 2009.

Claim payments and costs incurred on new claims increased in 2009 (claim payments in 2009 increased by over 45% to $76.9 million; claim costs in 2009 increased 76.6% to $47.0 million). For physicians and surgeons, paid claims in 2009 increased from $41.0 million to $45.9 million, and incurred claims increased from $14.1 million to $21.9 million. 

After a spike in 2005, newly reported claims declined rapidly after 2005, decreasing from 3,208 to 1,476 in 2009 (the spike in new claims in 2005 caused a temporary increase in claims closed during the next  several years). The number of claims closed declined in 2008 and again in 2009.

Between 2006 and 2007, the number of paid claims increased from 514 to 723, but declined to 573 in 2008 and to 498 in 2009. Average awards increased in 2008 and again in 2009. Between 2005 and 2006, average awards declined by 15.9%, from $253,888 to $213,454, and by an additional 8.5% to $195,908 in 2007. In 2008, average payments increased by 3.1%, and by an additional 15.6% in 2009, to $233,555. The average payments for physicians and surgeons declined by 7.4% between 2008 and 2009.

In 2009, the number of claims open at year end declined to 3,059, representing the lowest number of pending claims in twenty-five years. 

With regard to the type of medical malpractice claims made,  the most common category of allegation was adverse surgical outcomes, which accounted for nearly a third of all paid occurrences. Of 2,321 adverse surgical outcomes, 444 involved an unintentional cut, tear, or burn. Of these, 244 resulted in payments totaling $71.9 million. The most common post-surgical adverse outcome was an infection, resulting in 285 occurrences, of which 92 resulted in payments of $33.3 million. The other most common allegations of adverse surgical outcomes were unnecessary surgery, that the patient was not fully informed of the risks of the surgery, that the surgeries failed to achieve their intended result (324), the retention of surgical materials or other foreign bodies (156 occurrences), improper placement of a prosthetic or therapeutic device or using the wrong device or wrong-sized device (132), and improper closure of surgical site (100).  

For claims involving adverse reactions to medications  (not including allergic reactions), by far the most common were medications to treat cognitive and affective disorders (98 occurrences). Such medications accounted for slightly over 40 percent of all such allegations, though only one claim resulted in a payout.

Of non-fatal injuries, the single most prevalent identifiable adverse outcome was “cuts or other damage to nerves” (347). The lowest payouts were associated with cases with no allegation of physical injury. Average payouts for individuals suffering only emotional distress was $29,847. Several adverse outcomes had average payouts in excess of $1 million: quadriplegia ($1.9 million), contraction of meningitis ($1.6 million), progression of meningitis ($2.3 million), cerebral palsy ($1.6 million), comas ($1.1 million), and paraplegia ($1.0 million). Injuries with payouts exceeding $500,000 included the loss of two or more limbs ($533,677), brachial plexus disorders ($549,104), and blindness ($950,343). 

If you have been the victim of medical malpractice in Missouri or in any other State in the U.S., please visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may assist you with your medical malpractice claim. If you wish to speak with us by telephone, please call us toll free 800-295-3959.