New Study Sheds Light On Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

A new study on medical malpractice claims in the United States - the most comprehensive of its kind - has shed light on some of the complexities, issues, and misconceptions surrounding medical errors and the lawsuits that are filed in their wake.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August, this new medical malpractice study was funded by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice and the National Institute on Aging. It was conducted by two professors of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Using data from a large but unnamed insurance company, it examined the history of 41,000 physicians across the country for 14 years.

Here are some of the medical malpractice study's most interesting findings:

  • Only a small fraction of medical error victims file medical malpractice claims after their injury. 
  • One in 14 doctors faces a medical malpractice claim each year. 
  • Only about 20 percent of medical malpractice claims end with the victim collecting damages. 
  • About two in one hundred doctors had their insurers pay out for a medical malpractice claim each year.
  • Some types of doctors, such as pediatricians, psychiatrists, pathologists, and family practice physicians, were sued for medical malpractice very rarely. 
  • Other types of doctors, such as heart surgeons, faced higher rates of medical malpractice claims.

What can we learn from this study? Some findings in the study confirm what other research has found: specialists must deal with more medical malpractice lawsuits than the vast majority of physicians. Also, the majority of medical malpractice claims don't result in compensation for alleged victims of medical mistakes. However, the researchers also stressed that a huge number of medical malpractice incidents never result in claims because of the potential high cost of fighting for justice.

If you or a loved one have been harmed by a medical mistake in Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, or Illinois, you may be wondering whether filing a medical malpractice claim would be worth the fight. The medical malpractice attorneys at Keller & Keller LLP can look at the facts of your case and give you an honest assessment. Call us today to schedule a free, private meeting with one of our medical mistake lawyers.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller