Methodology Of Recent Medical Malpractice Study Questioned

162017_132140396847214_292624_nWe discussed in our January 28, 2016 blog posting that a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on January 28, 2016 reported that 1% of physicians were responsible for 32% of the paid medical malpractice claims in the United States over the ten-year period that was analyzed by the researchers. The study reviewed data reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) from 2005 through 2014. The researchers analyzed 66,426 medical malpractice paid claims that involved 54,099 physicians in the United States. The researchers then calculated concentrations of medical malpractice claims among physicians.

Both physicians and medical malpractice insurers are challenging the study’s methodology, including the President of the American Medical Association who stated, “Once again a study of medical liability claims has based unreliable conclusions on information obtained from the inherently flawed National Practitioner Data Bank,” further noting that most reports to the NPDB are based on medical malpractice settlements where the liability of the defendant physicians had not been established as a result of a court proceeding and further noting that the defendant physicians often deny that they committed medical malpractice or that the claimants’ alleged harm was caused by medical negligence: “Settlement information offers an incomplete and often misleading indicator of physician quality and competence. The nation’s best physicians who practice cutting-edge medicine and take on the riskiest cases are involved in settlements, yet the [NPDB] information does not acknowledge their high-level of competence.”

Nonetheless, the lead author of the study stands by the study’s methodology: “the data bank is the most authoritative repository of information that we have on medical malpractice claims nationwide. We don’t have an ability to look across the country at what’s happening with medical malpractice claims in any more comprehensive way than the [data bank]. Is it a perfect source of data? No. It has some limitations … That wasn’t an issue with the data we examined. The information was very complete. I don’t doubt that the GAO report was correct, but it looks like over the last 15 years there must have been some improvements to the quality of the data bank.” (The GAO reported in November 2000 that “Although the National Practitioner Data Bank is presently the nation’s only central source of medical malpractice payment information, it is unclear whether all relevant data are being properly reported. GAO’s review suggests that information in that data bank may not be as accurate, complete, or as timely as it should be.” The GAO’s report is entitled, National Practitioner Data Bank Major Improvements Are Needed to Enhance Data Bank’s Reliability”).


Whether or not your medical provider has a past history of one or more paid medical malpractice claims against him/her, if you or a loved one may have been harmed due to medical negligence in the United States, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice attorneys in your state who may assist you.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016 at 5:12 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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