Malpractice by the Numbers

Malpractice is one of those nebulous things. It feels as if it could never happen to you. Unfortunately, it’s something that could happen to any doctor at any time. The losses can be enormous, both financially and in terms of reputation.

Let’s take a look at some of the numbers from a recent malpractice report completed by Medscape. It’s comprised of data from nearly 1,400 physicians who were sued for malpractice. The hard, statistical facts provide more insight in a very impactful way, making the implications of the data really hit home.

  • 24% of physicians sued were dismissed prior to deposition
    • 45% went to depositions
    • 21% went all the way to trial
  • 74% of physicians were surprised to be sued
  • 35% of lawsuits were “failure to diagnose” (17% “failure to treat”)
  • 61% took up to 2 years to conclude
  • 57% of plaintiffs received no monetary award
    • 18% received up to $100,000
    • 16% received up to $500,000
    • 2% received over $2 million
  • 62% of responding physicians said the lawsuit result was fair.

In almost all cases, the insurer paid the full payout amount.

  • 29% of physicians said they no longer trust patients and treat them differently.
  • 93% of sued physicians said saying, “I’m sorry” would not have helped.

Respondents to this malpractice survey advise other doctors to follow up even when you don’t think you have to; practice more defensive medicine; document more often and more thoroughly; and get rid of rude, demanding, noncompliant patients.

 

Full Medscape Medical Malpractice Report available here.

 

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