Most Physicians Eventually Sued for Malpractice

Most Physicians Eventually Sued for Malpractice

While the risk of being sued for malpractice can range from 2.6% for psychiatrists to almost 20% for neurosurgeons, most physicians can expect to face at least one lawsuit by age 65, according to a recent New England Journal of Medicine study.

In an analysis of more than 40,000 physicians, it was estimated that by the age of 65, 75% of physicians in low-risk specialties had faced a malpractice claim, as compared with 99% of physicians in high-risk specialties.

Each year during the study period, 7.4% of all physicians had a malpractice claim, with 1.6% having a claim leading to a payment. The proportion of physicians facing a claim each year was:

19.1% in neurosurgery

18.9% in thoracic-cardiovascular surgery

15.3% in general surgery

5.2% in family medicine

3.1% in pediatrics

2.6% in psychiatry

The average indemnity payment was $274,887, ranging from $117,832 for dermatology to $520,923 for pediatrics.

View the NEJM Study

Physician’s Weekly wants to know…

  • Do concerns of a lawsuit affect the way you provide care?
  • How do you hedge against potential malpractice claims?


  1. I feel for any new program ie ACA to be successful need to get more PCP and reduce or forgive medical loans to medical schools as well as REFORM the medical malpractice problems Otherwise nothing will work and no one will want to become a physician especially a PCP

  2. i am a 37 yrs exp. least 45% of the rads are sued, since every case has imaging studies. so al most, every radiologist is sued all the time, including my self 5 times, even though ,you are not at fault, due to several imaging studies, are
    ordered, for defensive medicine. it is very un happy/unfortunate , status in medical practice.the MALPRACTICE, has to be re organiged/controlled, ro reduce the medical costs, not my politics. no matter what happens with med coverage all the DOCS will order all the tests /defensive medicine. now i am retired, still 3 cases,going on.


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