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N Engl J Med. 2011 Mar 31;364(13):1243-50. doi: 10.1056/NEJMsa1009336.

Relationship between quality of care and negligence litigation in nursing homes.

Author information

  • 1Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. d.studdert@unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

It is unclear whether high-quality health care institutions are less likely to be sued for negligence than their low-performing counterparts.

METHODS:

We linked information on tort claims brought against 1465 nursing homes between 1998 and 2006 to 10 indicators of nursing home quality drawn from two U.S. national data sets: the Online Survey, Certification, and Reporting system and the Minimum Data Set Quality Measure/Indicator Report. We tested for associations between the incidence of claims and the quality measures at the facility calendar-quarter level, correcting for facility clustering and adjusting for case mix, ownership, occupancy, year, and state. Odds ratios were calculated for the effect of a change of 1 SD in each quality measure on the odds of one or more claims in each facility calendar-quarter.

RESULTS:

Nursing homes with more deficiencies (odds ratio, 1.09; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05 to 1.13) and those with more serious deficiencies (odds ratio, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.00 to 1.08) had higher odds of being sued; this was also true for nursing homes that had more residents with weight loss (odds ratio, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.10) and with pressure ulcers (odds ratio, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.05 to 1.14). The odds of being sued were lower in nursing homes with more nurse's aide-hours per resident-day (odds ratio, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.91 to 0.99). However, all these effects were relatively small. For example, nursing homes with the best deficiency records (10th percentile) had a 40% annual risk of being sued, as compared with a 47% risk among nursing homes with the worst deficiency records (90th percentile).

CONCLUSIONS:

The best-performing nursing homes are sued only marginally less than the worst-performing ones. Such weak discrimination may subvert the capacity of litigation to provide incentives to deliver safer care.

Comment in

PMID:
21449787
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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