1% of Doctors = 32% of Malpractice Claims

1% of doctors make up 32% of malpractice

Some unsettling news was released by The New England Journal of Medicine. A recent study found that a mere 1% of doctors account for 32% of all medical malpractice claims. The legal and medical community were both surprised by this disproportional distribution of claims.

There were 66,426 claims and 54,099 doctors studied between 2005 and 2014. The goal of the study to see how claims are distributed and if there are any ways to identify a doctor who is claim-prone. As it turns out, certain doctors do seem to be claim-prone. The study found:

  • 84% of doctors who paid claims only paid one claim during the years studied. This portion made up about 68% of the total claims paid.
  • 16% paid at least two claims, which is 32% of all the claims
  • The remaining 4% paid a minimum of three claims, 12% of all claims.

The Journal concluded 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.”

This study shows some good news and some terribly frightening news. The good news is that you have a really good chance of getting a doctor who wouldn’t be considered claim-prone. The scary news is that if you do get a claim-prone doctor, the likelihood of having to file a medical malpractice claim is high.

The lesson is incredibly clear, avoid doctors with multiple claims. While this hopefully isn’t a new concept, it’s very important. Doing your homework on a doctor isn’t very hard, checking local court records will show if any legal action has been taken against a doctor or you can use DocInfo to see if any disciplinary action has ever been enforced. Healthgrades will show other helpful information like patient satisfaction.


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