The high cost of mal­prac­tice cases at Chicago’s two pub­lic hos­pi­tals

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS -

Ac­cord­ing to data ob­tained through open records re­quests, the Cook County Health and Hos­pi­tals Sys­tem, which op­er­ates Stroger Hospi­tal in Chicago, one of the na­tion’s busiest safe­tynet hos­pi­tals, set­tled 41 med­i­cal neg­li­gence cases from 2012 through last Septem­ber for a to­tal of more than $80.5 mil­lion.

Chicago’s other ma­jor pub­lic hospi­tal sys­tem, the Univer­sity of Illi­nois Hospi­tal and Health Sciences Sys­tem, agreed to pay $83.7 mil­lion in 33 med­i­cal mal­prac­tice cases dur­ing the same pe­riod, records show.

The two pub­licly owned Chicago med­i­cal cen­ters aren’t unique in pay­ing such big sums. Hos­pi­tals across the coun­try pay 10-fig­ure set­tle­ments in some mal­prac­tice cases and are strug­gling to cut down on er­rors.

“There is a huge prob­lem here,” said Martin Hatlie, chief ex­ec­u­tive at Chicago-based Project Pa­tient Care, a not-for-profit group that re­searches and ad­vo­cates for safer med­i­cal treat­ment and ad­vises the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Speak­ing broadly, he calls hospi­tal le­gal set­tle­ments only “the tip of the ice­berg” be­cause a great num­ber of harm­ful or deadly in­ci­dents don’t end up in court.

In 2014, the ci­ti­zen watch­dog group, the Bet­ter Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, found that over 10 years, pub­lic hos­pi­tals across Illi­nois, in­clud­ing lo­cal med­i­cal cen­ters, Veter­ans Af­fairs hos­pi­tals and men­tal health treat­ment cen­ters, agreed to pay fam­i­lies more than $180 mil­lion. The vast ma­jor­ity of those set­tle­ments were paid out by the Cook County and the Univer­sity of Illi­nois health sys­tems.

Stroger Hospi­tal

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