MEDICAL MALPRACTICE AND PERSONAL INJURY LAW BLOG

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Reports Show Washington, D.C. Is Among The Worst For Those Practicing Medicine

In 2017, there were approximately 49,000 claims of medical malpractice filed across the country. There were roughly 30 cases of malpractice in Washington, D.C. that were reported. Although this number of claims in D.C. may seem low, it is high when compared proportionally based on the population of just over 700,000 residents. In 2017, Pennsylvania had 2,008 such claims and Maryland had a total of 1,026.

In the U.S., those practicing medicine are highly compensated. Many medical school graduates have accrued significant amounts of debt to pay for their advanced levels of education. In 2018, the average amount of debt was $196,000. Young physicians are increasingly conscious of financial concerns and working environments that are associated with practicing in different U.S. cities and regions. A recent study evaluated these varying geographical factors that include the average earnings and quality of life among those practicing medicine.

Washington, D.C.’s Low Ranking

Montana was reported to be the top state for practicing physicians followed by Wisconsin, Idaho, and Minnesota. New York and Washington D.C. were ranked as the two least desirable areas for medical practice. Some of the key metrics included the number of hospitals relative to the population, the number of practicing physicians (competitors), and salaries relative to the cost of living. Other key considerations included the medical malpractice market and the quality of the hospitals in the region. 

  • Wages for surgeons after adjusting for costs of living were best in Mississippi at $316,828 and worst in Washington, D.C. at $117,763
  • Washington, D.C. is tied for the highest number of physicians per 1,000 people at 6.2
  • Washington, D.C. is ranked fourth highest for costs of annual medical malpractice insurance

Adverse Event Reporting in D.C.

The Medical Malpractice Amendment Act was enacted in 2006. This legislation required all medical providers and healthcare facilities to report adverse incidents. The Act sought to improve healthcare quality by allowing for data to be compiled to identify and create solutions for these issues. The District’s data is also then sent to a federal database managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC).

Most Common Adverse Events in D.C. [1]

Frequency

Central-line bloodstream infections (CLABSIs)

78%

Pressure Ulcers (bed sores)

14%

Falls

3%

Foreign objects retained in the body

3%

Medical Malpractice Insurance in D.C.

According to Gallagher Healthcare, an established provider of medical malpractice insurance, D.C. has among the “most unstable” malpractice insurance markets in the U.S. They explain that legislators have failed to pass sufficient tort reform measures to control the number of claims. Physicians in high-risk specialties of practice are increasingly facing unaffordable premiums. They stated that some practitioners have chosen to relocate their practices to Maryland and Virginia due because they are more favorable legal environments.

The malpractice insurance market apparently lacks adequate competition. There are merely four insurance companies that offer coverage in D.C. In 2005, ProAssurance completed an acquisition of National Capital Insurance Company, which was a primary competitor in this business sector. ProAssurance now has a somewhat dominating presence in the market, with a market share of roughly 43%.

[1] https://dchealth.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/doh/publication/attachments/FY2017_DC%20DOH_Annual%20Report_FINAL%208_7_2018%20%28002%29.pdf

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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