Nursing professionals should remain cognizant of an increased risk of professional liability claims settling for higher than anticipated amounts relative to historic averages, according to the Nurse Professional Liability: Exposure Claim Report: 4th Edition Minimizing Risk, Achieving Excellence. This important analysis of professional liability risks encountered by nurses seeks to help these professionals enhance their practice and minimize exposures by identifying loss patterns and trends in nurse specialties, healthcare delivery locations, allegations asserted against nurses, patient injuries associated with the claim, and license protection defense matters.
Even when excellent nursing care is provided, patient comorbidities or system failures may result in an inadequate patient outcome. Understanding the conditions that lead to a claim help nurses to develop techniques to mitigate risk and minimize the potential for litigation.
The following ten statistics represent the key findings of the Nurse Professional Liability Exposure Claim Report: 4th Edition Minimizing Risk, Achieving Excellence (“the 2020 claim report”):
- The average total incurred of professional liability claims in the 2020 claim report of $210,513 increased more than 4 percent compared to the 2015 claim report.
- The average total expense of professional liability claims that closed without an indemnity payment in the 2020 claim report increased 14.6% annually since the 2015 claim report. This increase was significantly more rapid than the 2.8 percent annual increase between the 2011 and 2015 claim reports.
- Obstetrics represents the highest average total incurred in both the prior and present CNA/NSO closed claim reports.
- Home care closed claims increased from 12.4 percent of the total claim count in the 2015 claim report to 20.7 percent of the total claim count in the 2020 claim report.
- Claims asserted against a nurse working in the aging services and hospital inpatient medical services locations have decreased when compared to prior CNA/NSO claim reports published in 2011 and 2015.
- The allegation related to inappropriate treatment/care continues to reflect the most frequent allegation asserted against nurses.
- Death and pressure injury are the two most common injuries, representing half of the closed claims.
- The average cost of defending allegations in license protection matters involving a nurse in the 2020 claim report of $5,330 increased 33.7 percent compared to the 2015 claim report and 58.9 percent compared to the 2011 claim report.
- Professional conduct, scope of practice and documentation allegations comprise the highest distribution of license protection board matters.
- Approximately 55 percent of license board matters lead to some type of board action against a nurse’s license.
The 2020 Report analyzed 455 professional liability closed claims that:
- Involved a registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN)/licensed vocational nurse (LVN), or nursing student;
- Closed between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2019 (although claims may have been reported earlier); and
- Resulted in an indemnity payment of $10,000 or greater
Of the 455 nurse closed claims in the analysis, 86.8 percent involved RNs, 12.8 percent involved LPNs/LVNs, and less than one percent involved student nurses. Although claims involving student nurses in the dataset are infrequent, claims arising from care provided by students resulted in the highest average total incurred of all licensure types.
Notably, healthcare continues to be a challenging industry and is experiencing an increase in the frequency of higher professional liability verdicts. In this evolving environment, resources, such as the Nurse Professional Liability Exposure Claim Report: 4th Edition Minimizing Risk, Achieving Excellence, strive to help nursing professionals enhance their practices and minimize exposure. This incisive data analysis is intended to assist nursing professionals in continuing to serve in a heroic manner in both their customary roles and especially during a healthcare crisis.