two doctors performing surgery

What Type of Physician Receives the Most Malpractice Claims?

Physician Specialization and Malpractice Claim Rate

Medical malpractice has long been considered the third leading cause of death in the United States, just behind cancer and cardiovascular disease. With more than 250,000 lives taken each year due to a medical professional or facility error, a simple check-up may become a life-altering experience. However, not every physician may experience this or other malpractice claims at the same rate.

Surgeons Have Higher Rates of Malpractice Claims

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed the rate of medical malpractice claims for physicians insured by a nationwide professional liability provider and categorized them based on specialization. Their results overwhelmingly showed that physicians who specialize in an area of surgery often see the most claims, ranking the top five as such:

  • Neurosurgery
  • Thoracic-cardiovascular surgery
  • General surgery
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Plastic surgery

Among the above group, physicians in general and orthopedic surgery also have the highest payment rate to plaintiffs. When consolidating these surgical specializations to examine further, these are the physicians with the most claims:

  • Surgery specializations
  • Gastroenterology
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Urology
  • Pulmonary medicine

This research is also consistent with the American Medical Association's survey findings, in which post-residency physicians were asked to self-report the number of claims against them.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient

Unlike most surgeries, these specializations largely practice in outpatient centers. According to a study found in the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 41% of medical malpractice claims are from treatment in outpatient settings.

The types of malpractice claims also vary in these settings. While each has claims in diagnostic, treatment, and surgical categories, outpatient centers are much more likely to see claims regarding misdiagnosis versus inpatient having more surgical error claims.

Considering that different types of physicians may experience different rates of medical malpractice claims, it is understandable that this rate may also vary by state.

Medical Malpractice Claims Vary by State

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a database of the adverse action reports filed against a medical professional, as well as the medical malpractice payments (in millions) that have been made during a given year. This database is for public use and can be filtered based on the state, timeframe, and other factors.

On a national level, more than $42.2 billion in payments have been made over the last ten years, with over half coming from only six states, including New York.

New York State Has the Highest Combined Malpractice Payments

Since 2010, over $7 billion in payments to victims of medical malpractice have been made in New York, which is more than any other state and more than double what was paid in Pennsylvania (ranked second). Conversely, the state is narrowly in the top five for number of adverse action reports (any report filed against a health care practitioner) behind California, Texas, and Florida. This can indicate a greater severity in the malpractice claims and higher individual payments in New York State.

Trust the NYC Medical Malpractice Attorneys

The team at The Law Firm of D.F. Truhowsky has always been committed to helping injured victims see the light at the end of the tunnel. When choosing our firm for legal representation, rest easier knowing that we provide personalized representation and advocate for the maximum compensation possible for our clients.

If you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice and are seeking legal representation, call (888) 400-1691 or fill out the form on our website to schedule a free case evaluation.

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