A drop in malpractice claims in California, US, is a direct result of a reduction in preventable patient injuries, a new study has found.

The drop in medical liability lawsuits from 2001 to 2005 is due to patient safety having improved rather than because injured patients cannot retain counsel or fully recover, according to a RAND Corporation study.

Californians Allied for Patient Protection (CAPP) has responded to the study’s findings, issuing a statement saying that the study validates the hard work of healthcare professionals in California.

Increasing patient safety results in fewer negative medical outcomes and thereby has reduced the number of medical liability lawsuits filed, said CAPP.

CAPP also noted the significance of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which enabled doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers to increase their focus on their patients instead of worrying about legal action.

The percentage of non-meritorious claims has remained constant over the same period, and CAPP said these matters still waste important funds that could be used for additional healthcare or patient safety efforts.

“Frivolous lawsuits don’t result in better care, just more dollars spent on defensive medicine, unnecessary tests and litigation costs that drive up the cost of healthcare for everyone,” the statement said.