Will Online Hospital Report Metrics Change MPL Claim Behavior?
April 08, 2013| By Joe Meli |
The Association of Health Care Journalists launched a new searchable website that makes it easier for the general public to scrutinize a hospital. With only Internet access, anyone can read hospital inspection reports and find the deficiencies uncovered for each facility. What does this mean for malpractice claiming behavior and litigation tactics?
This kind of information was once only available through the Freedom of Information Act, and only in paper form. Now, inspection reports can be found at www.hospitalinspections.org. From each report you can learn "…details about deficiencies cited during the complaint inspections at acute-care and critical access hospitals throughout the United States since Jan. 1, 2011."
Searches by state, hospital and condition are easy.
Transparency is generally a good thing, and our world is moving to on-line access for all types of information. But what are the unintended consequences for MPL insurers? A few thoughts:
• Only one side of the story is provided - the site does not provide the hospital's response to the deficiencies discovered during inspection. We wonder if readers will realize that they are viewing an incomplete picture.
• If a facility has been inspected in response to complaints, could the mere fact of that inspection create the perception of overall inadequate care to more patients - particularly those that had similar treatment?
Given the old saying "perception is reality,” could a perception of sub-standard care become a new claim reality?
But could the inspections also be useful for insurance carriers? Certainly the findings and recommendations could be underwriting tools as well. Will the claim impact outweigh the underwriting benefit?
The number of Internet-based sites in the healthcare area is increasing rapidly with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) leading the way. More and more information about hospitals and doctors is being made available to the general public.
Stand by. This is only the beginning. As part of the Patient Protection and Accountable Care Act (PPACA), all providers will be capturing and reporting to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) a whole host of performance metrics that will be made available for public review. Whether it hurts or helps insurers, publicly available hospital metrics are open for all to see.