THE rapidly ageing population in Singapore and a rise in the number of chronic and complex medical conditions are projected to drive demand for medical malpractice insurance in the next five years, said AIG Singapore.
The insurer said that it expects appetite for such coverage by institutions providing care to the aged - such as hospices, nursing homes, community hospitals and palliative care organisations - to rise by 40 per cent in the next five years.
It also estimated that the take-up rate for malpractice insurance by general practitioners, family clinics and tradition Chinese medicine clinics will rise 25 per cent in the same period.
This comes about as the number of residents over 65 years is expected to double to 900,000 by 2030, said the insurer, adding that the healthcare system here will come under greater pressure and in turn, potentially increase the risk of medical errors.
Aileen Killen, AIG's head of casualty risk consulting for healthcare, said that the Singapore operations has recorded a 300 per cent rise in medical malpractice insurance enquiries in the last year, of which a significant proportion came from institutions providing care to the elderly.
While the absolute figure on this is not available, the insurer said that such coverage is niche and targets a very specific industry so the number will never be as large as other types of general insurance products.
Based on an AIG survey in Asia, the greatest worries of healthcare organisations here include inadequate patient handovers between caregivers; failure to correctly carry out independent double checks; and medication prescription errors as patients are treated by multiple public and private healthcare professionals.
These concerns tie in with the complaints received by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) in 2015, said AIG. Of the 141 complaints, professional negligence or incompetence accounted for 28 per cent of them.
The research also found that there is direct link between workplace safety culture and high burnout rates.
Said Dr Killen: "There is a need to proactively address the risks that can arise from these pressures, and for healthcare organisations to build preventive solutions into their systems. This ensures that healthcare professionals are better equipped to proactively manage risk instead of reacting to issues after the fact. In this way, healthcare organisations can keep their staff safe, and this has a major positive impact on patient outcomes and safety."