Catastrophic Claims Require a "Multidimensional Approach at All Phases"
October 30, 2020 | Aging Services Risk Management
During this time when nine-figure mega-verdicts are increasingly common, "we need a full-court press on these kinds of cases, we need a vigorous offensive that is going to allow us to create the best defense," said Marilee Clausing, RN, JD, managing partner, Hall Prangle & Schoonveld, LLC, speaking on October 12 at the American Society for Health Care Risk Management (ASHRM) 2020 annual conference. Factors that affect whether the jury awards a mega-verdict include selection of jurors who are more likely to award high verdicts, plaintiff success in generating "moral outrage," and plaintiff establishment of a convincing "anchoring" number—the amount of damages that the plaintiff's counsel suggests to the jury. Clausing offered several strategies for managing catastrophic claims. "Our goal is to start early, to leave no stone unturned on the journey to resolving these cases with the best possible outcomes," said Clausing. Early identification and reporting of adverse clinical events is key, and when such an event occurs, the communication and resolution program should be deployed. This should include prompt investigation, full disclosure, an apology when appropriate, and early resolution when liability is clear. Although communication and resolution programs do not reduce the rate of paid claims, "there are fewer new claims," said Clausing, and indemnity expenditures and malpractice defense costs also decrease. If suit is filed, the team should evaluate the claim early on, conduct interviews, and aggressively retain experts.