Dr. Jena, of Mass General and Harvard Medical School, studied malpractice cases and her findings were published in the AMA’s Archives in Internal Medicine. Interestingly, the study found that of all malpractice insurance claims where some defense cost was incurred, only 55.2 percent resulted in litigation.
Of those malpractice insurance cases that resulted in litigation, there were differences by specialty; for example, 46.7 percent of the claims were against anesthesiologists and 62.6 percent of the claims were against OB/GYNs.
54.4 percent of the cases were dismissed. Claims against internists were highest, at 61.5 percent, and claims against pathologists were a low percentage of 36.5. This makes sense because an internist will often have a relationship with the patient, whereas a pathologist will probably not.
We have stressed this in other articles: Patients are less likely to sue doctors, thereby creating malpractice insurance claims, if they know and like them.
For example, “Dr. Sanchez is a nice doctor and it was just a mistake”, versus, “that jerk doctor who doesn’t care about me has to pay!” Which doctor would you want to be if something went wrong?
The most interesting fact was that malpractice insurance claims that actually went to trial were only at 4.5 percent. Among that group, 2 percent were against anesthesiologists and 7.4 percent were against pathologists.
Of cases that went to trial, 79.6 percent of the verdicts were in the doctor’s favor. This is good news for physicians that do not want to settle when they feel they did nothing. If the physician goes to trial, he/she has a very good chance of prevailing.
We, at HCP National, see very few suits among our clients and of the few clients we have that have gone to trial, all of them have prevailed. This is part of the reason why we have many lower cost malpractice insurance options. In California particularly, it is a buyers’ market for malpractice. Many of the leading standard insurers have reduced their rates, and the non-standard malpractice insurance companies are very competitively priced. For more information, please contact William Dyer, VP, at (888) 478-6756 ext. 101.