Learning from lawsuits: Using malpractice claims data to develop care transitions planning tools

Alicia I. Arbaje, Nicole E. Werner, Eileen M. Kasda, Albert W. Wu, Charles F.S. Locke, Hanan Aboumatar, Lori A. Paine, Bruce Leff, Richard O. Davis, Romsai Boonyasai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives Our understanding of care transitions from hospital to home is incomplete. Malpractice claims are an important and underused data source to understand such transitions. We used malpractice claims data to (1) evaluate safety risks during care transitions and (2) help develop care transitions planning tools and pilot test their ability to evaluate care transitions from the hospital to home. Methods Closed malpractice claims were analyzed for 230 adult patients discharged from 4 hospital sites. Stakeholders participated in 2 structured focus groups to review concerns. This led to the development of 2 care transitions planning tools - one for patients/caregivers and one for frontline care providers. Both were tested for feasibility on 53 patient discharges. Results Qualitative analysis yielded 33 risk factors corresponding to hospital work system elements, care transitions processes, and care outcomes. Providers reported that the tool was easy to use and did not adversely affect workflow. Patients reported that the tool was acceptable in terms of length and response burden. Patients were often still waiting for information at the time they applied the tool. Conclusions Malpractice claims provided insights that enriched our understanding of suboptimal care transitions and guided the development of care transitions planning tools. Pilot testing suggested that the tools would be feasible for use with minor adjustment. The malpractice data can complement other approaches to characterize systems failures threatening patient safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-57
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of patient safety
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • care transitions
  • dashboard
  • discharge planning
  • malpractice claims
  • measure development
  • patient safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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