By Andrea Karshan
Kings County Hospital, 451 Clarkson Avenue in East Flatbush, leads all City medical facilities in malpractice claims, according to a report that City Comptroller Scott Stringer put out today.
The report, Claims Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 found that overall the number of new malpractice claims filed against NYC Health + Hospitals’ acute care hospitals increased by 9%, rising from 485 claims in FY 2014 to 528 in FY 2015. Kings County Hospital had 90 of these claims or nearly 20 percent of the total claims against all the City hospitals. In FY 2014 there were 74 claims against the hospital.
The overall number of settlements and judgments to resolve medical malpractice claims rose from $118.5 million in FY 2014 to $144.9 million in FY 2015.
Total claims filed against the City in all categories declined by 6%, but settlements and judgments costs increased by nearly 5%.
Stringer said while the good news is that claims against the City declined, more can be done to curtail the increase in settlements.
“We do not have to accept rising settlements as the cost of doing business. City agencies must take steps to improve their operations and reduce the incidents that lead to costly payouts,” said Stringer, noting that every dollar that we spend to resolve claims is one less that we can put toward housing, infrastructure and vital services.
The Claims Report, which includes breakdowns of personal injury and property damage claims filed and settlement costs paid by the City, shows that 27,321 new tort claims were filed in FY 2015, a 6% decline from FY 2014. Despite this decline in the number of claims, the cost of tort settlements increased by nearly 5%, to $585.9 million, marking the fourth consecutive year of rising costs. Meanwhile, the cost of non-tort claims – namely those related to contracts, salary disputes and refund claims – rose by 38% over the previous fiscal year, to $372.2 million.
Brooklyn had 4,952 Personal Injury and 1,987 Property Damage claims in FY 2015.
The report also found the total number of claims filed against the NYPD declined from 9,485 to 8,411, an 11% drop last year, while $222.7 million was spent to settle claims against the NYPD essentially the same amount as the previous year.
The number of non-tort claims arising from issues such as City contracts, salary disputes, and other refund claims increased by 46% in FY 2015, to 6,165, from 4,214 in FY 2014. In the last fiscal year, the cost of settlements related to these claims against the City grew by 38%, from $269.2 million in FY 2014 to $372.2 million in FY 2015.
Settlement costs related to these special-education related claims filed against the DOE grew rose a whopping 91%, from $131.3 million in FY 2014 to $250.8 million, but civil rights claims related to alleged discrimination based on sex, race, or disability as well as alleged constitutional civil rights violations by law enforcement claims fell from 2,900 in FY 2014 to 2,684 in FY 2015.
De Blasio spokesperson Freddi Goldstein said the City is thrilled to see the number of claims steadily declining and hopes the trend continues.
“In our FY17 Executive Budget we significantly expanded efforts to drive down costs related to claims by using vertical case processing in Brooklyn and The Bronx. This builds off previous efforts, such as launching a new unit focused specifically on more strategic and streamlined handling of claims against police officers and increasing the tree pruning budget. We’re confident that future reports will reflect these efforts,” Goldstein said.
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