Medscape has released its report on medical malpractice in 2017. The survey was taken from over 4000 physicians who responded to their poll. The results show that the top five specialties most likely to be sued are Surgery, OB/GYN, ENT, Urology, and Orthopedics. Over 85% of surgeons and OB have been involved in litigation. Anesthesiology, formerly one of the most notorious specialties for getting sued, drops in at a humble tenth place with 61% having been sued.
Of course the more often one is getting charged, the higher the malpractice insurance premiums will rise. Unfortunately for general surgeons in New York City, their premiums are over $141,000 per year. OB is even great, with almost $200,000 of their hard earned money going to insurance companies. That is an astounding amount of work that's required by the doctor just to pay insurance companies.
Luckily most doctors aren't sued that often. Almost half have faced less than five lawsuits in their careers. An unlucky 2%, have faced ten or more. Maybe those doctors shouldn't be in medical practice at all.
The most common reason a suit was brought against them was failure to diagnose or delay of diagnosis. This occurred about one third of the time. The next most common complaints that lead to litigation are complications from treatment or surgery, poor outcome, failure to treat, then wrongful death. Everything else only occurred in single digits.
A vast majority of the doctors, almost 90%, felt that the lawsuits were not justified. Almost half didn't think the inciting incident warranted a malpractice complaint. They were completely caught off guard when they were filed with the legal paperwork.
It's not just the mental stress that causes physicians to despise trial lawyers and their pesky lawsuits. It takes a huge toll on the time that could be used to see patients or be with families. While many doctors spent 10-20 hours preparing for a case, one third spent over 40 hours to get ready to face the court. A plurality of 39% said they spent 1-2 years involved in one case while an unlucky 10% took over five years to resolve their cases. That's years of their lives they will never get back.
And most of that time was spent for naught. The doctors only lost 2% of their cases, either with a guilty finding or they settled out of court. And when they lost or settled, about one third had to pay out $100,000 in damages. Another third reached $500,000. Though we often hear about blockbuster malpractice lawsuits that were lost for millions of dollars, only a very small minority of verdicts reached seven figures.
This survey has tons of other data to go over. If you're a doctor who is concerned about medical malpractice, and every doctor should be, it is well worth reading through the entire poll.