Medico-legal claims: ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure’

 

“The lessons from SA’s medical malpractice disaster is that you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” Business Maverick (7 July 2021)

This is the conclusion of public interest actuary Gregory Whittaker, who was commissioned by the Actuarial Society of SA to research the driving force behind malpractice suits, especially the high number of cases involving cerebral palsy (CP) a neurological disorder caused by damage to an infant’s developing brain that permanently affects body movement and muscle co-ordination. Whittaker recommends that the national Department of Health create a centralised database for monitoring CP claimants to build up accurate life expectancy data.

“Rather than hand-wringing, Whittaker strongly recommends the department establish a medico-legal unit to create a uniform statistical reporting system for medical malpractice claims. It would improve patient safety and help to understand the performance of the medical liability system.” The fact that SA has no legislation regulating legal claims in the medical field, also requires urgent attention, Whittaker said. He recommended the establishing of specialist medical malpractice courts to lend support to this legislation and a medico-legal unit to create a uniform statistical reporting system for medical malpractice claims.

 

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