More than 50% of physicians have been sued for malpractice, study finds


Roughly half (55 percent) of surveyed physicians said they have been named in a malpractice lawsuit, according to a recent report by Medscape.

For the report, titled "Malpractice Report 2017," researchers gathered insights from 4,000 physicians across 25-plus specialties about why they had been sued, what happened during the case and how the malpractice lawsuit affected the way they practice medicine.

Here are six insights from the report.

1. Of the 55 percent of surveyed physicians who said they had been named in a malpractice lawsuit, 48 percent of individuals said other physicians had also been named in the lawsuit.

2. Researchers discovered the top 10 specialties in which physicians said they had been named in a malpractice lawsuit. The 10 specialties are:

  • Surgery — 85 percent
  • OB-GYN and women's health — 85 percent
  • Otolaryngology — 78 percent
  • Urology — 77 percent
  • Orthopedics — 76 percent
  • Plastic surgery/aesthetic medicine — 73 percent
  • Radiology — 70 percent
  • Emergency medicine — 65 percent
  • Gastroenterology — 62 percent
  • Anesthesiology — 61 percent

3. Among the physicians who identified as having been sued for malpractice, 49 percent said they've been named in between two to five malpractice suits.

4. Nearly six in 10 physicians (58 percent) said they were surprised by the lawsuit.

5. Respondents identified the top 10 reasons physicians were sued for malpractice. The top five reasons are:

  • Failure to diagnose/delayed diagnosis — 31 percent
  • Complications from treatment/surgery — 27 percent
  • Poor outcome/disease progression — 24 percent
  • Failure to treat/delayed treatment — 17 percent
  • Wrongful death — 16 percent

6. Among the surveyed physicians who had been sued, 89 percent said the lawsuit was unwarranted, while 6 percent identified as being "unsure."

To read the full report, click here.

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