When someone is injured while being cared for by a medical professional, issues of medical negligence can be present. Recently, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study examining just how many doctors are responsible for individual medical malpractice claims, and the results were shocking. Between 2005-2014, one percent of doctors were responsible for 32% of medical malpractice claims. And, these same doctors were more likely to be sued for claims of malpractice. In fact, after a doctor had settled his or her first medical malpractice suit, the chances of future settlements increased greatly. For example, doctors who had settled two and three suits respectively, the risk increased at the same rate: two and three apiece. It begins to feel a bit like a frighteningly unlucky game of “luck-of-the-draw.” What if you were to find out that your doctor had settled, say, six lawsuits previously? The New England Journal of Medicine says that means that doctor is not six, but twelve times more likely to have a future medical malpractice settlement. In other words, a serial offender!
Certain types of doctors were more likely to comprise the 1%, the study revealed. Practicing OB/GYNs, Neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons and general surgeons were more likely to face and settle medical malpractice suits. The study also documented that younger doctors were at less risk than older doctors, and that female doctors are 40% less likely to have repeat settlements than male doctors, who posed a higher risk.
This study by The New England Journal of Medicine illustrates a serious question for patients entering hospitals and/or being directly under a doctor’s care. Will people know if their treating doctor has faced one medical malpractice lawsuit, let alone two or three or even more? While it is possible to find a doctor’s history of settled claims, active lawsuits cannot necessarily be accessed. So the short answer to whether or not you truly know your doctor’s medical malpractice case settlement history may be: no. The study does prove, however, that attention is being paid to the very important question of not only which doctors have settled one medical malpractice claim, but also which doctors are repeat medical malpractice offenders and have settled in court multiple times. As patient advocates we remain hopeful that patients will become progressively more protected and well-cared for by the very people they should be able to trust: their medical health professionals.
Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Galfand Berger have successfully represented clients who have suffered from professional, medical negligence by a healthcare provider. If you or any of your loved ones have experienced such a situation, an attorney at Galfand Berger, LLP can help. With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.