1% of physicians responsible for a third of malpractice claims: 5 key insights

Approximately 1 percent of all physicians accounted for 32 percent of paid medical malpractice claims, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Here are five key insights:

1. Researchers analyzed 66,426 claims paid against 54,099 physicians from the National Practitioner Data Bank. The study period was from 2005 to 2014.

2. They found that among physicians with paid claims,

•    Eighty-four percent incurred only one during the study period, accounting for 68 percent of all paid claims
•    Sixteen percent had at least two paid claims, accounting for 32 percent of the claims
•    Four percent had at least three paid claims, accounting for 12 percent of the claims

3. Additionally, the risk of recurrence increased with the number of previous paid claims. For example, as compared with physicians who had one previous paid claim, the physicians who had three paid claims had three times the risk of incurring another.

4. Risks of recurrence also varied widely according to specialty. For example, the risk among neurosurgeons was four times as great as the risk among psychiatrists.

5. "Over a recent 10-year period, a small number of physicians with distinctive characteristics accounted for a disproportionately large number of paid malpractice claims," concluded the study authors.

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