When Do Attorneys Succeed In Medical Malpractice Cases?

How often do attorneys really win medical malpractice cases?

Only 1 in 5 physician malpractice claim against doctors leads to a settlement or other payout, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study, the most comprehensivereport in two decades.

But while doctors and their insurers are winning most actions filed by a medical malpractice lawyer, there is a lot of malpractice claim filed. Each year about 1 in 14 doctors is the target of a medical malpractice claim, and most doctor and virtually every surgeon will face at least one in their careers.

malpractice claim carry a significant emotional cost for doctors, said study co-author Amitabh Chandra, an economist and professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government

“They hate having their name dragged through the local newspaper and having to go to court,” he said.

The study might seem to support a common opinion among doctors that actions brought by medical malpractice attorney are baseless, but the authors said the truth is more complicated than that.

They noted influential earlier research in New York state concluding that just a tiny fraction of the patients harmed by medical mistakes actually file claims.

Trial Lawyers say cost is a barrier to bringing a medical malpractice claim to court. There are very high up-front costs for hiring expert witnesses and preparing a case. Doctors, hospitals and their insurers often have significant money and legal firepower. Some states also have caps on malpractice awards. So, usually, only very strong cases with high expected payouts are pursued.

Given the expense and other difficulties involved in winning, it’s doubtful most claims are filed on a greedy whim of a medical malpractice attorney, the researchers said.

The research team turned to one of the nation’s largest national malpractice insurers, analyzing data for about 41,000 physicians who bought coverage from 1991-2005. The researchers could only get the data by signing an agreement not to identify the insurer, so they wouldn’t disclose the name of the company.

Facts on Medical medical negligence claim

-About 7.5 percent of doctors have a medical negligence claim filed against them each year.

-Fewer than 2 percent of doctors each year were the subject of a successful malpractice claim, in which the insurer had to pay a settlement or court judgment.

-Approximately 19 percent of neurosurgeons and heart surgeons were sued every year, making them the most targeted specialties.

-Pediatricians and psychiatrists were sued the least, with fewer than 3 percent of them facing a medical malpractice claim each year.

-When pediatricians did pay a malpractice claim, it was much more than other doctors. The average pediatric claim was more than $520,000, while the average was about $275,000.

“Jurors’ hearts cry out for injured patients, especially when kids are involved,” Chandra said. The amount attached to a pediatric case also rises because many more years of suffering are involved than if the victim is middle-aged or elderly, experts said.

The study was funded by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice. Chandra also received funding from the National Institute on Aging, which has been interested in malpractice as a possible driver of health-care costs.

The study echoes earlier research on which specialists get sued most often, said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy group.

If you are searching Internet for more information about the topic of how to write a grant proposal, visit the link that is quoted in this line.