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Am J Ophthalmol. 2005 Dec;140(6):1106-1111.

Medical professional liability insurance and its relation to medical error and healthcare risk management for the practicing physician.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, University of California-San Francisco, 10 Koret Way K-301, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.



To review the history and current issues surrounding medical professional liability insurance and its relationship to medical error and healthcare risk management.


Focused literature review and authors' experience.


Medical professional liability insurance issues are reviewed in association with the occurrence of medical error and the role of healthcare risk management.


The rising frequency and severity of claims and lawsuits incurred by physicians, as well as escalating defense costs, have dramatically increased over the past several years and have resulted in accelerated efforts to reduce medical errors and control practice risk for physicians. Medical error reduction and improved patient outcomes are closely linked to the goals of the medical risk manager by reducing exposure to adverse medical events. Management of professional liability risk by the physician-led malpractice insurance company not only protects the economic viability of physicians, but also addresses patient safety concerns.


Physician-owned malpractice liability insurance companies will continue to be the dominant providers of insurance for practicing physicians and will serve as the primary source for loss prevention and risk management services. To succeed in the marketplace, the emergence and importance of the risk manager and incorporation of risk management principles throughout the professional liability company has become crucial to the financial stability and success of the insurance company. The risk manager provides the necessary advice and support requested by physicians to minimize medical liability risk in their daily practice.

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