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What Does the Future Hold for
Medical Professional Liability

Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 2:00 ET

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Inside Medical Liability

Third Quarter 2021




Industry Combines Experience, New Knowledge to Create Success in an Uncertain Future

Preparing for the unexpected—being flexible and adjusting to changing conditions—is critical to the success of any organization, particularly those focused on healthcare, risk, and insurance.

By Brian Atchinson, President & CEO


These organizational traits have become more imperative than ever during the past 18 months and will be essential in the months ahead as we learn more about the impact of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

How can our community best make use of the recent experiences and the new knowledge that have resulted from living with and adapting to the pandemic? COVID-19 brought many changes both unexpected and profound—not just for day-to-day business operations, but for healthcare delivery, patients, healthcare professionals, and the legal system.

Some jurisdictions have taken steps to support medical professionals during the past 18 months when the delivery of healthcare has gone through many changes and challenges, and legal systems around the world were either closed or operating at a glacial pace. In the magazine’s cover story, medical professional liability (MPL) legal experts examine ways that the landscape has changed, in some cases temporarily and in others for the foreseeable future. (See “Post- COVID MPL Legal Environment Unfolds,” p. 26.)

To date there have been few cases filed relating to COVID, but there may yet be a surge of claims in the future alleging a range of pandemic-related conditions or delays in treatment or diagnosis. Will the general public, including patients and their families, remember the valiant efforts and incredible sacrifices made by healthcare professionals during this time? If they do remember, will those memories make a difference?

COVID has not been the only factor impacting MPL over the past few years. In fact, in the years leading up to the pandemic, the MPL community was confronting a firming market and rising claim frequency. In an in-depth consideration of the circumstances in England, Flora McCabe, head of advocacy and risk management for healthcare with Lockton Companies LLP, examines how the trends in litigation have been exacerbated, not just by COVID, but also by rising claim volume and costs. (See “Medical Malpractice Litigation in England: Trends and Insights,” p. 54).

Whether it’s disruptions due to the unexpected or the impacts of longer-term market forces, innovation is a theme that has become part of our new reality. As Chris Smith, CEO of Strategic Risk Consultants, asserts, a commitment to innovation and collaboration should allow the MPL community to use its extensive knowledge in risk management, data analytics, underwriting, and claims management and to apply their collective expertise to advance patient safety in the U.S. and around the world. (See “Innovation: An MPL Recipe for Success,” p. 41.) Smith points out that “innovation” defined many companies over the past year and a half and that this would be an opportune time for the MPL community to achieve even greater innovative successes. Smith notes that a critical element for successful and timely innovation will be meaningful and effective collaboration among leaders in healthcare, insurance, and MPL.

The months and years ahead will be times of uncertainty. In order to successfully evolve, remain relevant, and meet changing needs, an organization must devote considerable capital and resources to enhancing business practices while staying open to new ideas and encouraging a culture of innovation. The MPL Association is committed to serving our members and those they insure and indemnify.