Insurers warned to brace for post-COVID healthcare liability crisis

A leading broker has warned that the industry should be braced for a COVID-driven medical malpractice crisis.

Max Carter, (above) CEO of specialist insurance broker, New Dawn Risk, warned the coming year is likely to see the full impact of the struggle the medical profession has faced to maintain levels of service as they coped with the huge influx of COVID-related cases.

“If there is one thing that parties on all sides can agree, it is that COVID has stretched and challenged every aspect of our healthcare systems.” he said.  “This is the case not just in the crowded emergency and COVID wards, but also in related fields, such as physiotherapy and rehabilitation, where the requirement for face-to-face interaction has been altered beyond belief by a year of remote treatment.”

Carter added: “GP surgeries now only treat 60% of their patients face to face and are working through never-before seen challenges in administering new vaccines, catching up on routine appointments and persuading the fearful back into treatment.

“Meanwhile in hospitals, consultants are struggling with huge disruptions to their operating lists, from the last-minute withdrawals of patients due to COVID, a shortage of back-office staff to make and manage patient records and appointments and the continued physical barriers to treatment from operating through layers of PPE.”

He said that the fear now was that the insurance sector will be inundated with an influx of medical malpractice claims.

“As an insurance broker specialising in medical malpractice cover, I look ahead and see something different,” Carter said.  “I see a flood of claims coming towards us.  The ability of consultants, physios, midwives, nurses and doctors to deliver consistent and excellent care has been challenged in so many ways.  Though the intentions and effort have been heroic, the results have inevitably included delayed procedures and deaths from diseases that might not previously have been fatal.

“History tells us that angry grieving families litigate, and this is what I expect to see happen in 2022. While the health service struggles to catch up, failures not of its making will catch it up, leading to a crisis in claims, a rise in premiums, and quite possibly some challenging restrictions in medical malpractice cover.

“In 2020 and 2021, health service professionals were national heroes.  They remain heroic, but the results of their efforts may bring them real additional challenges in the year ahead.”

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