(HealthDay News) — A comprehensive obstetric safety program can improve liability claims exposure, according to a study published online June 10 in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Christian M. Pettker, MD. from the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT, and colleagues examined the impact of the Yale-New Haven Hospital comprehensive obstetric safety program on liability claims and payments. Claims were reviewed at a single, tertiary-care, teaching hospital for two five-year periods before and after implementation of the safety program (1998–2002 and 2003–2007).

The researchers found that over the study period there was a significant decrease in annual cases per 1,000 deliveries (P<0.01). In the five years after program inception the number of claims decreased from 30 to 14, and payments decreased from $50.7 million to $2.9 million. The median annual claims decreased from 1.31 before program inception to 0.64 (P=0.02), and median annual payments decreased from $1,141,638 to $63,470 per 1,000 deliveries (P<0.01). Using the median payment for the five-year period to estimate the monetary awards for the remaining open cases, there was a significant reduction in the median monetary amount per case resulting in payment to the claimant ($632,262 vs. $216,815; P=0.046). During the same period, the number of claims was stable in the Connecticut insurance market, and there was a marked increase in the cost per claim.

“We conclude that an obstetric safety initiative can improve liability claims exposure and reduce liability payments,” the authors write.

The study was partially funded by MCIC Vermont, Inc.

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