Study: Most Physicians Win Malpractice Suits Despite Lengthy Process

Verdicts for most malpractice trials are in the physicians' favor, but cases that go to trial tend to take more than three years, according to a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine

Across all medical malpractice claims, 55.2 percent lead to litigation. That figure ranges among specialties, such as 46.7 percent for claims against anesthesiologists and 62.6 percent for claims against obstetricians and gynecologists.

Cases were dismissed by the court 54.1 percent of the time across all specialties. Cases underwent a trial verdict 4.5 percent of the time, on average. Of those trial cases, 79.6 percent were ruled in favor of the physician.

Despite the favorable outcome for physicians, malpractice claims take a considerable amount of time — especially if they go to trial. The mean time to close a malpractice claim was 19 months. Non-litigated claims took 11.6 months and litigated claims took 25 months.

Claims that were dismissed took a mean time of 20.4 months to close, while claims that were not dismissed but settled before a verdict took 28.5 months. Claims resolved at trial took a mean of 39 months to close if in favor of defendant, and 43.5 months to close if in favor of the plaintiff.

"While most claims were ultimately decided in a physician's favor, that resolution came only after months or years. The substantial portion of litigated claims that are not dismissed in court, and the length of time required to resolve litigated claims more generally, may help explain why malpractice claims undergoing litigation are an important source of concern to physicians," the study authors wrote.

More Articles on Malpractice Claims:

Hospital Corporate Responsibilities in Medical Malpractice Cases
Law Professor Attacks Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Project
Ohio's Malpractice Tort Reform Linked to 40% Drop in Claims

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