For Medscape’s Malpractice Report 2019, 4,360 physicians (68% were men; 57% were age 55 and over) in 29 medical specialities were surveyed with regard to whether they had been sued for medical malpractice and how their experiences affected how they treat their patients. The survey was conducted between August 6, 2019 and September 26, 2019. 59% of the respondents indicated that they had been sued for medical malpractice either individually or were named as defendants with others. 91% reported that they were not named in a medical malpractice case against a nurse practitioner or physician assistant.
Medical specialists reported that they had been sued for medical malpractice more than primary care physicians (62% versus 52%). Surgeons reported that they had been sued for medical malpractice more often than other medical specialists. The top ten specialities for medical malpractice claims were general surgery (85%), urology (84%), otolaryngology (83%), OB/GYN and women’s health (83%), specialized surgery (80%), radiology (76%), emergency medicine (76%), cardiology (65%), gastroenterology (63%), and anesthesiology (62%).
The top ten U.S. states for medical malpractice claims were Kentucky (75%), Nevada (73%), Illinois (71%), New Mexico (70%), Indiana (70%), Florida (69%), Pennsylvania (68%), Tennessee (67%), New York (66%), and Arizona (63%). The most common medical malpractice allegation was failure to diagnose/delayed diagnosis (33%) followed by complications from treatment/surgery (29%). 52% of the respondents reported being “very surprised” when they were sued for medical malpractice while 14% reported being “not at all surprised.” 83% reported that the medical malpractice lawsuit was unwarranted (6% responded that the medical malpractice lawsuit was warranted). 42% spent more than 40 hours participating in the defense of their medical malpractice lawsuit.
33% of the respondents reported that the medical malpractice lawsuit was settled before trial. 11% reported a verdict in their favor while 3% reported a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. 71% believed that patients blamed bad outcomes on their physician because the patients do not understand medical risks. 94% of the respondents reported that they had medical malpractice insurance (20% of the respondents reported that their medical malpractice insurance company required that they settle claims against them and 39% reported that they were encouraged to settle their medical malpractice claims).
25% of the respondents reported that they no longer trust their patients or treat them differently after being sued for medical malpractice (49% reported no change in their behavior). 15% of primary care physicians reported that they would practice more defensive medicine if they could do things over again.
For medical malpractice cases that resulted in payment to the plaintiff, 30% of the medical malpractice plaintiffs received payment in the amount of $100,000 or less, and 38% received payment in the amount of $500,000 or less (only 6% received payment in excess of $2 million). 58% of the respondents reported that they considered the outcome fair. 82% believed there would not have been a difference had they apologized to the patient.
48% of the respondents stated that they believed that caps on damages in medical malpractice cases discourage medical malpractice lawsuits. 54% reported that medical review panels would discourage medical malpractice lawsuits.
If you or a loved one suffered harm as a result of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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