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AMA Study Finds Almost 1 Malpractice Claim Is Filed For Every Physician – Not Really Shocking

No surprise I guess – Doctors remain targets of malpractice

Despite being in this business for 20 years, even this report left me in a momentary state of shock. A study from the American Medical Association (AMA) reports that an average of 95 medical liability claims are filed for every 100 physicians, almost one per physician. The AMA study looked at 42 specialties and was from a sample size of over 5,800 physicians.

The report reminded me of the question my now Ob/Gyn brother asked me as he was graduating medical school. “Who gets sued more? Regular obstetricians, high risk obstetricians, or ones that specialize in fertility?” My answer to him at the time was “they all get sued.” I did not truly realize how true that statement was until I read this report (for my brother and anyone else that may be interested, the AMA says 69.2%  Ob/Gyn doctors have been sued with Ob/Gyn physicians averaging 215 claims per 100 hundred physicians).

The AMA report also found:

  1. Nearly 61 percent of physicians age 55 and over have been sued.
  2. There is wide variation in the impact of liability claims between specialties. The number of claims per 100 physicians was more than five times greater for general surgeons and obstetricians/gynecologists than it was for pediatricians and psychiatrists.
  3. Before they reach the age of 40, more than 50 percent of obstetricians/gynecologists have already been sued.
  4. Ninety percent of general surgeons age 55 and over have been sued.

Med-Mal claims are not an indication of frequency of medical errors yet the cost to defend them is high

As the AMA reported in New AMA Report Finds 95 Medical Liability Claims Filed for Every 100 Physicians:

The number of medical liability claims is not an indication of the frequency of medical error, as the physician prevails 90 percent of the time in cases that go to trial.  While 65 percent of claims are dropped or dismissed, they are not cost-free.  Average defense costs per claim range from a low of over $22,000 among claims that are dropped or dismissed to a high of over $100,000 for cases that go to trial. This leads to increased costs for physicians and patients.

Are you shocked by this report or is it just par for the course?

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Posted in Medical Malpractice, SPOT on Issues.

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