Far Fewer Closed Claims Available; Director of Study Calls for Help

Fred Cheney, M. D.

To the Editor

It seems that the focus on patient safety by our profession in the past five years has resulted in fewer claims for anesthesia-related malpractice. Among the evidence for this is the fact that the ASA Committee on Professional Liability is now encountering difficulty obtaining dosed claims to review for the ASA Closed Claims Project. As we have been contacting our sources of closed claims for follow-up visits, we have found that they have not accumulated enough claims to make a reviewer visit worthwhile.

We would appreciate hearing from any of your readers who are in positions of influence in organizations which have closed anesthesia malpractice claims which could be made available in our committee for study.

Clearly this reduction in the number of claims implies to our committee that anesthesia is becoming safer for our patients. Our committee’s problem of fewer claims to review is a good problem to have.

Fred Cheney, M. D. University of Washington Seattle, WA

Editor’s note: The suggestion in Dr. Cheney’s letter of fewer malpractice claims relates directly to the above debate on whether mortality due to anesthesia has decreased. Various recent stories in the APSF Newsletter regarding reduced malpractice insurance premiums for anesthesiologists corroborate the suggestion that them are fewer claims today.