Study Says Doctors Face High Risk of Medical Malpractice Lawsuit


A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that doctors have a high risk of being sued for medical malpractice.  Researchers at Harvard University looked at information from 41,000 physicians during 1991 to 2005 and estimated that 99 percent of doctors who worked in “high risk” fields had a malpractice claim by the time they were 65 years old.  The data from the study was gathered from a professional liability insurance provider, which reported the amount of insurance claims that were filed during the time period.  Doctors who are considered “high risk” include oncologists, pulmonologists, urologists, gynecologists, gastroenterologists, plastic surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, general surgeons, thoracic-cardiovascular surgeons, and neurosurgeons.  Researches concluded that the odds of a malpractice claim were 75% for other doctors in “low risk” specialties .  Although the odds are high that a doctor will face medical malpractice, certainly there are ways to reduce that risk.  It’s important for doctors to keep in mind that honest communication with their patients and staying focused on providing excellent care are probably the best ways to prevent a malpractice lawsuit.  People are less likely to sue a doctor they respect and trust.Here are a few malpractice prevention tips for doctors, physicians, and surgeons:Don’t make promises you can’t keep.  Many people have unrealistic expectations, so it is up to the doctor to let them know what can or cannot be done.  Don’t rush the process.  Oftentimes, doctors are under a great deal of pressure, which causes them to stress and rush through patients.  When performing surgery, make sure everyone involved is clear about exactly what will be done.  Develop a consistent system of safeguards that includes a checklist prior to surgery. In addition to doctors taking steps to provide better patient care, hospitals also have a responsibility to ensure that everyone on the staff is properly trained and educated. The more proactive the medical community is regarding malpractice prevention, the more we will begin to see improvements in the health care system as a whole.

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Maria Palma is a freelance writer helping medical professionals find affordable malpractice insurance.  Visit to request a quote.
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