Top 10 Specialties Sued: 2013 Malpractice Report

Top 10 Specialties Sued: 2013 Malpractice Report

Nearly 1,400 physicians who were sued for medical malpractice share their experience in Medscape’s recent Malpractice Report.

According to the report, the top 10 medical specialties experiencing the most lawsuits were:

top 10 medical specialties sued

Most malpractice claims against primary care physicians are a result of missed diagnoses, particularly of cancer and myocardial infarction in adults and meningitis in children, as well as medication errors.

Other highlights from the malpractice report include:

35% of lawsuits were “failure to diagnose” (17% “failure to treat”)
74% of physicians were surprised to be sued
24% of physicians sued were dismissed prior to deposition

–  45% went to depositions
–  21% went all the way to trial

61% took up to 2 years to conclude
57% of plaintiffs received no monetary award

–  18% received up to $100,000
–  16% received up to $500,000
–  2% received over $2 million

62% of responding physicians said the lawsuit result was fair.
In almost all cases, the insurer paid the full payout amount.
29% of physicians said they no longer trust patients and treat them differently.
93% of sued physicians said saying “I’m sorry” would not have helped.

Respondents to the malpractice survey advise other doctors to: follow up even when you don’t think you have to; practice more defensive medicine; document more often and more thoroughly; and get rid of rude, demanding, noncompliant patients.

Click here to view the full Malpractice Report by Medscape.


1 Comment

  1. Imaging has greatly evolved. Particularly MRI and PET as well as low dose CAT. Labs have evolved, not so much as indicants along the chain of complex causalities, but as an index of suspicion. Alas, all these non-clinical signs acquisition systems are not adjusted in price to frequency of use. As a result, they are used only to confirm a high index of suspicion. Alas it is on that point that medicine fails. If price per test were adjusted to frequency of use rather than to the biggest profit the market would bear, we would not be suffering as many missed Dxs as we do today. Advances in technology that are motivated by exploitation on assumed entitlement to a cash bonanza end up costing lives. No healthcare tools should be considered off limits because of the profit greed of manufacturers. We are not jungle animals looking to the disabled or ill prey so we can pick them off with a minimum of effort and a maximum of profit. A societal investment in curing illness must be motivated by successful saving of lives. Our individuality in good health extends to our individuality in ill health. We, therefore, cannot become corporate commodities, nor can our needs to fight off pathology. Health is not proprietary. Yet, we allow patenting of means to proper Dx and Tx as proprietary while, on the other hand, suing physicians who fail to properly diagnose or treat because either or both is prohibitive. Since no one non-clinical procedure for Dx is certain, price should not rule out confirmatory procedures, even if redundant. Yet, price decides what tools are used for Dx as with Tx. Consequently, it seems rather outrageous to burden the primary MD with responsibility for misdiagnosis though he was denied the nails needed to nail down the Dx because they are deemed too expensive. Similarly, after using the argument that exposing a patient to radiation endangers the patient, it seems rather hypocritical that insurers so often allow a confirmatory CAT scan but refuse a far less risky MRI. The profit motive has taken the sanctity out of medicine, leaving it totally vulnerable to the predation of malpractice lawyers. Far more malpractice lawyers will need a doctor than people will need a malpractice lawyer. We should therefore consider making confirmatory testing with new techniques cheap rather than resorting malpractice courts to sort out culpability in the event of misdiagnosis.


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