The “Medscape Malpractice Report 2017” that was made public on November 15, 2017 involved a ten-minute online survey of 4,137 physicians representing more than twenty five medical specialties who met the survey’s screening criteria and who completed the survey between August 25 and October 6, 2017. Sixty nine percent of the survey respondents were men and forty nine percent were age 55 and older. Forty five percent of the physicians who completed the survey said that they had been named in a medical malpractice lawsuit, and forty eight percent stated that others were also named as defendants in the medical malpractice lawsuit.
Thirty one percent of the respondents stated that they worried too much about being sued for medical malpractice. Eighty four percent stated that they had not turned away a high-risk patient. Ninety seven percent of the physicians reported that they had medical malpractice insurance.
One third of the physicians stated that the threat of a medical malpractice claim influenced their actions all or most of the time (39% stated that the threat of a medical malpractice claim influenced their actions occasionally). Forty five percent stated that the threat of medical malpractice lawsuits is on their minds all or most of the time.
Eighty three percent of the physicians stated that they felt that apologizing to their patients (earlier or at all) would not make a difference in whether they are sued for medical malpractice or not. Thirty eight percent of female physicians, and thirty two percent of male physicians, believed that being sued for medical malpractice affected their careers. Twenty six percent of physicians sued for medical malpractice no longer trusted their patients or treated their patients differently.
Sixty two percent of the physicians who had been sued for medical malpractice believed that the outcome was fair (68% said that the successful medical malpractice claims against them resulted in payouts in an amount of up to $500,000, while 17% reported that the payout was between $500,000 and $1 million). Thirty percent of the physicians stated that the medical malpractice claims against them were settled before trial (only 2% reported that the medical malpractice claim against them was tried before a jury and that the jury found against them).
Eighty one percent of the physicians who were sued for medical malpractice had given a deposition. One third of the physicians who were sued for medical malpractice reported spending more than 40 hours working on their defense.
Forty nine percent of the physicians stated that there was no incident that was the basis for a medical malpractice claim against them or would have alerted them to expect a medical malpractice lawsuit filed against them (35% stated that there was such an incident). Twenty nine percent of the physicians stated that they were surprised by the medical malpractice lawsuit against them. Eighty nine percent stated that the medical malpractice claim against them was unwarranted.
In general, the top reason for a medical malpractice claim was the failure to diagnose or a delay in diagnosis (31%), followed by complications from medical treatment or surgery (27%), and poor outcome or progression of disease (24%).
Of the physicians who had been sued for medical malpractice, 49% reported that they had been sued for medical negligence two to five times.
The top medical specialties involved in medical malpractice claims were surgery (85%), OB/GYN and Women’s Health (85%), otolaryngology (78%), urology (77%), orthopedics (76%), plastic surgery/aesthetic medicine (73%), radiology (70%), emergency medicine (65%), gastroenterology (62%), and anesthesiology (61%).
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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