Study Details Concentration, Demographics of Medical Malpractice

While most doctors do a good job treating their patients, there are still thousands of treatment mistakes made every year which rise to the level of medical malpractice. But just how widespread is medical malpractice. According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, malpractice appears to be heavily concentrated among a relative handful of doctors.

How One Percent of Doctors Account for One-Third of Malpractice Payouts

The study was prepared by researchers affiliated with Stanford University and the University of Melbourne in Australia. The researchers analyzed over 66,000 medical malpractice claims reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank between 2005 and 2014. This data reflects malpractice claims where the patient received compensation, not merely those who filed lawsuits.

Based on this data, the researchers said “just 1 percent of practicing physicians accounted for 32 percent of paid malpractice claims.” Dr. Michelle Mello, one of the study’s authors and a law professor at Stanford, said this concentration “is larger than has been found in the few previous studies that have looked at this distributional question.” She said the data suggested some physicians are especially prone to malpractice claims, and that this “may be a bigger problem today” than it was when earlier studies were conducted more than two decades ago.

The key reason for the 1 percent concentration, according to the study, is a high rate of recidivism among physicians who pay malpractice claims. For instance, a doctor “who had two paid claims had almost twice the risk of another one” versus a physician with only one prior paid medical malpractice claim. And doctors with six or more paid claims—yes, they do exist—were “12 times” more likely to have another paid claim.

The study also looked at the demographics of doctors with paid malpractice claims. Among other things, male doctors had “a 40 percent higher risk of recurrence than female physicians.” Doctors under the age of 35 also had a lower risk of recurrence versus older physicians.

Dr. David Studdert, another study co-author, said this demographic information may be able to “predict accurately which physicians are going to become frequent flyers,” which in turn may prompt hospitals (and their liability insurers) to “kick out the high-risk clinicians, essentially making them someone else’s problem.” Dr. Studdert cautioned, however, that this was not necessarily be the most constructive approach either for improving patient safety or reducing litigation risks.

Get Help from a Medical Malpractice Attorney

Medical errors are not simply a subject for academic study. They impact the daily lives of victims and their families. That is why if you or a loved one has suffered due to a medical provider’s negligence, it is important you take action and seek assistance from someone who understands the industry. An experienced Clearwater medical malpractice attorney can assess your case and help you seek compensation from the responsible parties. Contact the Law Office of Paul B. Genet, P.A., we are available for consultation 24/7 as we understand that you may need assistance during non-business hours. Our phone number is (727) 538-8865.

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