Physicians sued for malpractice once are likely to get sued again

In an effort to better understand the distribution of malpractice claims among physicians, researchers have analyzed claims data to identify physicians at high risk for recurrent malpractice claims.

Using data from the National Practitioner Data Bank, researchers analyzed 66,426 claims paid against 54,099 physicians from 2005 through 2014. The results of the study, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, were astounding.

Approximately 1 percent of all physicians accounted for 32 percent of paid claims. Although most (84 percent) physicians with a paid claim only incurred one during the study period, there were a group of physicians identified as claim-prone. Those 4 percent of physicians had at least three paid claims during the study period.

In adjusted analyses, the researchers found the risk of recurrence increased with the number of previously paid claims — a finding that could help healthcare organizations better identify which physicians will be subject to a malpractice claim in the future.

The study found the 2,160 physicians who had three paid claims during the study period had three times the risk of incurring another claim as compared to physicians who had only one previous paid claim. Researchers determined the physicians who had three paid claims had a 24 percent chance of another paid claim within two years.

"Ninety-four percent of all doctors have no claims," said the lead author of the study, David M. Studdert, a professor of law and medicine at Stanford, according to The New York Times. "But doctors who accumulate multiple claims are a problem, and a threat to the healthcare system. Identifying these high-risk doctors is a key first step toward doing something about the problem."

Risk of recurrence also varied widely across specialties. For example, the study found the risk among neurosurgeons was four times as great as the risk among psychiatrists.

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Managed care plan to pay $46.7M to settle fraud allegations



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