Monday, November 23, 2009

A little more liability premium relief

The pain of high medical liability insurance premiums continued to ease a bit for most physicians — but perhaps not for long. An annual survey found that 94 percent of premiums are holding steady of dropping this year, according to American Medical News.

But despite the dips, they are still inflated after the rate hikes in the early 2000, insurers say. And this relief could be short-lived.
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According to the Medical Liability Monitor survey, 58 percent of premiums had no change (up from 50 percent last year), 36 percent of premiums fell (down from 43 percent). Two years ago, a full 16 percent of premiums went up, so increases have slowed.

At the same time, jury awards are climbing steadily, so it won’t be long before rates rise again, insurers say.

The news of this survey comes just as I am researching for an upcoming story on how to keep malpractice lawyers at bay. Several pieces of advice I’ve been told so far revolve around treating the patient with respect and setting a tone in the office that makes the patient feel valued and comfortable. Little things mean a lot, consultant Judy Capko said. Even eye contact and friendly body language can go a long way.

Here’s a recent column with 10 ways to keep lawyers at bay, and look for more in the March issue.

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