Study Shows Disturbing Medical Lawsuit Numbers

Frivolous or not, harsh statistics show lawsuits are running rampant against physicians...

There are about 95 medical liability claims filed for every 100 physicians—or almost one per doctor—and nearly 61% of physicians age 55 and older have been sued, according to a report released by the American Medical Association  and based on a survey of 5,825 “non-federal patient care physicians” conducted in 2007 and 2008.
The survey, which included doctors practicing across 42 specialties, found that 42.2% of the respondents had a claim filed against them at some point, with more than 20% of physicians sued at least twice.

As physicians age, it is more likely they will get sued, according to the survey, which found that only 15.3% of doctors under age 40 had been sued and only 4.2% had been sued twice; 45.3% doctors between 40 and 54 had been sued, with 22.3% having been sued twice; and 60.5% of doctors 55 and older had been sued, with 39.2% having been sued at least twice.

The study also found that 47.5% of male physicians had been sued, with 26.3% having been sued twice; and that 23.9% of female doctors had been sued and only 9.4% had been sued twice.

The most-sued specialties were obstetricians/gynecologists and general surgeons, with 69.2% of them being sued; while psychiatrists were the least sued at 22.2%.

In another study, the Illinois State Medical Society and the ISMIE Mutual Insurance Co. malpractice insurer surveyed some 1,100 Illinois physicians between June 21 and July 2, and 66% said they have personally reduced or eliminated high-risk services or procedures because of the threat of being sued, 82% said they viewed each patient as a liability risk, and 89% said that liability concerns caused them to “order more tests than are medically needed.” 

Guest post by Joy Tu of Medical Justice.

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