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?