A panel of industry experts from The MGIS Companies and top malpractice defense law firms explored looming emerging risk realities under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a round table discussion at the
According to a release, entitled, If We Had a
The presentation was moderated by
"The industry is very concerned that the ACA will potentially open up medical professionals to more claims based on vicarious liability," noted Farrell. "The need to manage more non-physician providers to handle a large influx of new patients - many with untested expectations of the healthcare system - will present new undefined risks - we have to get ready and ensure we have programs to address the new healthcare reality."
The presenters noted that key issues to watch include:
-The potential created by the ACA, as well as by plaintiff attorney interpretations of the law, to expand the number and nature of malpractice claims, specifically in the area of vicarious liability, or claims based not on what a physician providing care has done, but holding the physician and/or medical group responsible for the misconduct of others on a healthcare team.
-The use of Standards of Care criteria in lawsuits. Panelist
-Miscommunication and/or poor patient hand-off. As the healthcare system becomes more complex, and as there is an emphasis on "team based" care and technology for efficiency and cost savings, there is also an increased risk of some critical piece of patient data "falling through the cracks" and leading to a medical error.
-The need to educate a new population of patients who may have had limited access to healthcare in the past and who may have unrealistic expectations and demands.
-Over-burdened systems and staff. By 2018, it is anticipated some 22 million new people will have attained health insurance. As the healthcare industry expands to care for these patients, there are concerns that some providers will become over-burdened, which could potentially lead to errors and oversights.
Other trends discussed by the panel have moved out of the "crystal ball" stage and are now showing up in the courtroom. "The plaintiffs' bar increasingly asserts that medical specialty board guidelines protect the public from the healthcare system," said Holm. "That opens the door to guidelines becoming rules dictating the standard of practice and patient safety rather than relying on the skill and experience of physicians deciding what's best for each individual patient under their care."