Study: Nurse practitioners receive more malpractice claims at physician offices

There are fewer claims in offices owned by other nurse practitioners

The CNA and Nurses Service Organization has published the “Nurse Practitioner Professional Liability Exposure Claim Report: 5th Edition,” revealing a number of illuminating statistics on the modern nursing industry. Among them, the report analyzed 232 CNA professional liability claims between Jan. 2017 and Dec. 2021 and discovered that 31.5% of claims occurred in physician office practices. Only 13.8% of claims, however, occurred in nurse practitioner office practices.

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From 2017 to 2022, the total number of liability claims at nurse practitioner office practices increased by 5.8 percentage points, which the report claimed is largely due to the increased prevalence of nurse practitioner office practices.

“This increase in claims may be attributed to the overall increase of NPs in the workforce coupled with the increase of NPs working in underserved specialties, such as aging services facilities, as well as the steady decline of primary care physicians,” the study said. “In December 2019, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) reported that an estimated 290,000 NPs were licensed to practice in the United States. In April 2022, the AANP reported that the number of NPs in the workforce had increased to 360,000.”

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The average total expense of professional liability claims that closed without an indemnity payment in 2022 increased to $26,349, an 11.1% increase since 2017. The average total cost of defending allegations in license protection matters involving a nurse practitioner in 2022 increased to $7,155, a 19.5% increase since 2017. That total is 61.1% higher than it was in 2012.

“NP practice owners must recognize that, as business owners, they assume the liability exposures of their practice, including those of their employees and independent contractors,” the study said. “The distribution and severity of NP office practice setting claims have increased since the 2017 dataset. In the 2017 dataset, the NP office practice setting accounted for 8.0 percent of the claims, with an average total incurred of $335,767. In the 2022 dataset, the NP office practice setting increased both in distribution and in average total incurred.”

Approximately 43% of license board matters led to some type of board action against a nurse practitioner’s license as well.

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