Doctors are expected to provide a reasonable standard of care to their patients. Unfortunately, every year doctors fail to meet this standard and patients, or the loved ones of patients, bring lawsuits for medical malpractice. It is estimated by medical researchers that by the time physicians reach the age of 65, many of them will have dealt with medical malpractice lawsuits. For low-risk specialties, it is estimated that 75% of physicians will have faced a medical malpractice lawsuit. In high-risk specialties, is much higher at 99%. Overall, every year 7.4% of doctors experience medical malpractice claims.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a small number of doctors are responsible for quite a few of the medical malpractice claim settlements in the past ten years. The study “analyzed 66,426 paid malpractice claims for 54,099 doctors over ten years.” 54% of claims involved lawsuits with serious physical injuries while a third of the claims involved the death of a patient. Specifically, between 2005-2014, the study found that 32% of medical settlements paid were linked to 1% of doctors. The data was collected by the United States National Practitioner Data Bank (“Data Bank”). The Data Bank “tracks nationwide information on all practicing physicians’ malpractice suits and their settlements.” The only people with access to the full Data Bank are hospitals, medical boards, and federal investigators. The data was anonymized for the study.
Medical Malpractice Settlements Predict Future Settlements
According to the study the more claims a doctor settles, the more likely he or she is to settle another claim later on. The study reports that “doctors who settled two malpractice suits had about twice the risk of being involved in a third settlement when compared to those with just one settlement.” Doctors who have settled three claims were three times more likely to settle a claim again in the future. Physicians with six or more settled claims were 12 times as likely to settle one again.
The Huffington Post article states that the doctors most likely to be involved in these recurring settlements were “neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, general surgeons, plastic surgeons and OB/GYNs.” These types of doctors “were about twice as likely to have repeat malpractice settlements compared to internal medicine doctors.” In addition, the settlement chances changed depending on whether the doctor was male or female. Male doctors were more likely to have recurring settlements, as were doctors older than 35. Younger doctors and female doctors had lower chances of being involved in recurring medical malpractice settlements.
When you or a loved one seeks the help of a physician for a medical issue, you expect that doctor to use the appropriate standard of care. Failure to do so could be the grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you believe that you or a loved one may have a malpractice claim, schedule a free medical malpractice consultation with us today, and we’ll review your case and help you determine who is at fault and what your damages may be.
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