The average indemnity and expense payments in nurse practitioner liability claims have increased at a rate of 2.3 percent per year over the past 10 years, according to an insurer's review of claims.
Pediatric/neonatal specialty has the highest average severity, professional liability insurer CNA HealthPro also reported.
The new report -- Understanding Nurse Practitioner Liability: CNA HealthPro Nurse Practitioner Claims Analysis 1998-2008, Risk Management Strategies and Highlights of the 2009 NSO Survey -- suggests that nurse practitioners are at a "paradigm shift" in today's health care system. Whereas 10 years ago they did not have a prominent role, today physician groups, hospitals, aging services and other healthcare organizations increasingly depend upon them.
A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has received advanced training and may perform some of the duties of a physician.
The document draws on CNA HealthPro claims data and NSO's survey of nurse practitioners.
The data showed that the average indemnity payment increased from $168,600 in 1999 to $189,300 in 2008. Average expenses including legal costs went from $28,500 to $42,900 over the same span.
CNA HealthPro paid $64.8 million in claims over the 10 years and placed $24.9 million in reserves.
"In the last 10 years, nurse practitioners have increased their role in patient care; and, as a result, there is a greater focus on nurse practitioners in malpractice litigation," said Bruce Dmytrow, vice president of Specialty Risk Control, CNA.
Other highlights of the CNA report:
•the medical care office is the location with the highest number of claims;
•adult/geriatric, family and pediatric/neonatal medicine specialties continue to have the most claims;
•several closed claims that settled at the policy limit ($1 million) resulted from allegations of failure to diagnose or failure to properly assess.
The report's data excludes claims for registered nurses, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives. Nurse practitioners in the report include clinical nurse specialists.