Sunday, November 15, 2009

Statistics on California Doctors

The Medical Board of California publishes a newsletter every quarter. For their end of the year issue, they print some interesting statistics about physicians in California. For instance, did you know there are 99,900 licensed physicians in California, with another 27,536 doctors who hold California licenses but don't live in the state? The county with the most licensed doctors is, you might guess, Los Angeles County with 27,556. The county with the next highest number of doctors is San Diego County with 9,428. The counties with the least number of doctors is Sierra County, with ZERO doctors, and Alpine County with 1 doctor.

There were 6,437 complaints against physicians received by the Board. Of those 5,303 wer closed by the Complaint Unit. Four hundred fifty cases were referred to the Attorney General and twenty-seven were referred for criminal action. The Board received a total of 811 malpractice reports against physicians. There is another list of malpractice settlements broken down by specialty. The field with the most number of malpractice settlements per physician was Neurosurgery, with 16 settlements for 541 neurosurgeons in the state, or 2.95%. The field with the next highest number of settlements per physician was Vascular Surgery, with six settlements among 228 vascular surgeons or 2.63%. The top five fields with the most malpractice settlements per physician were Neurosurgery, Vascular Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery (do you see a pattern here?), and Neonatalogy/Perinatal Medicine.

The field with the least number of malpractice settlements reported was Oncology, with one case among 1,965 oncologists or 0.0509%. The next lowest was Neurology, with one case reported in 1,516 neurologists or 0.0659%. The five fields with the lowest reported malpractice settlements per physician were Oncology, Neurology, Physical Medicine/Rehabilitation, Psychiatry, and Pulmonology.

The fields that traditionally were thought to have a lot of malpractice complaints did surprisingly well. Emergency Medicine had the seventh most number of malpractice settlements per physician. General Surgery came in at number eight, and Obstetrics was in the top ten at number nine. Anesthesiology performed in the middle of the pack, ranking number fifteen, with 27 malpractice settlements among 4,781 anesthesiologists or 0.564%. All the research into providing safe and effective anesthesia has paid off well for us anesthesiologists.

Tomorrow, some more interesting reading from the Medical Board of California.

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