The New England Journal of Medicine has analyzed data that 1% of physicians account for approximately 32% of paid medical malpractice claims. The data – which was pulled from the National Practitioner Data Bank – shows that over a recent 10-year period, a small number of physicians with distinctive characteristics accounted for a disproportionately large number of paid malpractice claims.
A study of 70,000 malpractice claims against approximately 55,000 doctors from 2005 through 2014, the Journal analyzed data with the hope of understanding the distribution of malpractice claims among physicians.
Among all of the physicians with paid claims, 84% incurred only one malpractice claim during the study period, which accounted for 68% of all paid claims. Of the remaining physicians, 16% had at least two paid claims during the relevant time frame, accounting for 32% of the claims.The last 4% of doctors had at least three paid claims (if not more), accounting for 12% of the claims.
Physicians who had three paid medical malpractice claims have three times the risk of incurring another paid medical malpractice claim in the future. Practitioner speciality also plays a role: the risk of malpractice among neurosurgeons, for example, was four times as great as the risk among psychiatrists.
The Journal’s conclusion boils down to this startling fact: “A small number of physicians with distinctive characteristics accounted for a disproportionately large number of paid [medical] malpractice claims.”