SINGAPORE, September 22, 2016 – Demand for medical malpractice insurance by senior healthcare organisations in Singapore is forecast to grow by 40 per cent over the next five years, according to AIG Asia Pacific Insurance Pte. Ltd. ('AIG Singapore').
Driving this demand is the number of residents aged over 65 years here, which is expected to double from 440,000 to 900,000 by 20301, as well as rising incidents of chronic and complex conditions. These factors are putting the healthcare system under pressure, potentially increasing the risk of medical errors.
Similarly, the take-up rate for malpractice insurance for general healthcare institutions is projected to increase by 25 per cent in the next five years. A survey undertaken by AIG in Asia2 revealed that the top concerns for Singapore healthcare organisations and their patients include inadequate patient handovers between caregivers, failure to correctly conduct independent double checks, and medication prescription errors as more patients get treated by multiple public and private health care professionals.
These risk areas align with complaints received by the Singapore Medical Council in 20153. Out of 141 complaints, one of the most common causes was professional negligence or incompetence which accounted for 28 per cent of complaints.
AIG’s Head of Casualty Risk Consulting – Healthcare, Dr Aileen Killen, said AIG Singapore has seen a 300 per cent increase in medical malpractice insurance enquiries in the last year by both healthcare institutions and professionals, with a significant proportion from senior healthcare organisations.
“While hospitals and healthcare professionals have no legal obligation to insure themselves, we are seeing a strong rise in demand for medical malpractice insurance due to the increased pressures on medical staff driven by factors such as an ageing population.”
Dr Killen added, “There is a need to proactively address the risks that can arise from these pressures and for healthcare organisations to build preventive solutions into their systems. This ensures that healthcare professionals are better equipped to proactively manage risk instead of reacting to issues after the fact. In this way, healthcare organisations can keep their staff safe, and this has a major positive impact on patient outcomes and safety.”
Research4 has found that there is a direct correlation between workplace safety culture scores and higher burnout rates. Aggressive patients, falls caused by unstable patients, and injuries from lifting patients are all risk areas for healthcare workers.
“Creating a safety culture begins with the well-being of healthcare professionals. It is vital to ensure adequate support for these workers for a coordinated approach to patient safety, which will ultimately create a safer environment for both patients and workers,” said Dr Killen.
To meet the growing demand for medical malpractice protection in Singapore and throughout Asia Pacific, AIG offers comprehensive products and dedicated underwriting and claims specialists to meet the unique needs of the healthcare industry. AIG’s products include patient and worker safety consulting services, web-based platforms and resources for managing and mitigating risk, and direct access to free legal advice.
1 Ministry of Health, Successful Ageing Action Plan, 2016
2 AIG conducted a survey with delegates of the Quality Forum for Healthcare and Safety in September 2015. The survey polled 270 healthcare providers and patient safety specialists from 15 Asian countries.
3 Singapore Medical Council, Annual Report 2015
4 Profit J, Sharek PJ, Amspoker AB, et al. 2014. Burnout in the NICU setting and its relation to safety culture. BMJ Qual Saf 23(10):806–813.