Study: One-Third of Medical Malpractice Claims Come From One Percent Of All Doctors

by Martin Arguello

A recent study by researchers at Stanford University revealed that one-third of all U.S. medical malpractice claims arose from only one percent of all physicians. The study also found that only six percent of all U.S. physicians had paid medical malpractice claims against them from 2005 to 2014. Researchers discovered that physicians with a higher number of paid claims were also at higher risk to have malpractice claims made against them in the future.

Details of the Medical Malpractice Claims Study

The Stanford medical malpractice claims study examined data from more than 66,000 paid claims against over 54,000 doctors. The data came from the U.S. National Practitioner Data Bank, a computer database created in 1986 to improve the quality of national health care. The study found number of doctors with paid claims against them accounted for only six percent of the all U.S.-based doctors. Only one percent of all doctors had at least two medical malpractice claims against them, but those claims represented 32 percent of all paid claims.

Risk Factors for Medical Malpractice Claims

The study found several risk factors for doctors with multiple paid medical malpractice claims. A demographic study showed that male physicians younger than 35 were much more likely to have medical malpractice claims made against them. Some specialists, such as surgeons and obstetrician-gynecologists, had at least double the risk of potential claims. The biggest risk factor the study found was the existence of prior claims. Physicians with at least two paid claims were nearly twice as likely to have another, while those with at least six claims were twelve times more likely to have another claim.

Injuries from Medical Malpractice Claims

The study revealed that more than 30 percent of the medical malpractice claims involved patients who lost their lives. Over half of the cases involved “significant” or “major” injuries. The research effort also used data not available to the public, such as when a physician has been dropped from participating in Medicare or Medicaid. Stanford University professor David Studdert, the study’s lead author, told reporters that the research efforts into medical malpractice claims can help patients, insurers, and hospitals identify “claim prone” doctors.

Medical Malpractice Claims Run Into Billions

While the study did examine how many doctors paid out medical malpractice claims, it did not mention how much each claim paid out, nor how much each doctor with multiple claims against them paid out per claim. The data showed that doctors and their insurers paid out more than $24 billion in medical malpractice claims from 2005 to 2014, not including legal fees. Dr. Studdert told reporters that the study’s results posed the question as to why doctors with multiple claims against them are still allowed to practice medicine. “We don’t know the answer to that question,” he said.

Source: US News & World Report

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NOTE: This post is a news story and does not imply an endorsement of Arguello Law Firm by any of the parties mentioned herein.

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