Notes from Medscape's 2021 report on medical malpractice lawsuits

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More than half of doctors in the U.S. surveyed by Medscape for its 2021 Malpractice Report said they have been named in a malpractice lawsuit, with plastic surgery being the top specialty cited.

Medscape surveyed 4,358 physicians in 29 specialties from May 21 to Aug. 28.

Percentage of physicians named in a malpractice lawsuit: 51 percent

Percentage of physicians named in malpractice lawsuits by specialty
Plastic surgery: 83 percent
General surgery: 83 percent
Orthopedics: 81 percent
Urology: 80 percent
OB-GYN: 79 percent
Specialized surgery: 74 percent
Emergency medicine: 70 percent
Otolaryngology: 68 percent
Radiology: 64 percent
Cardiology: 58 percent

Reasons for malpractice lawsuits
Failure to diagnose/delayed diagnosis: 31 percent
Complications from treatment/surgery: 29 percent
Poor outcome/disease profession: 26 percent
Failure to treat/delayed treatment: 16 percent
Wrongful death: 13 percent
Patient suffered an abnormal injury: 11 percent
Poor documentation of patient instruction and education: 4 percent
Errors in medication administration: 3 percent
Improperly obtaining/lack of informed consent: 2 percent
Failure to follow safety procedures: 1 percent

10 states with the most malpractice lawsuits
Indiana: 64 percent
New York: 61 percent
Pennsylvania: 61 percent
Illinois: 59 percent
New Jersey: 59 percent
South Carolina: 58 percent
Louisiana: 57 percent
Tennessee: 56 percent
North Carolina: 55 percent
Maryland: 54 percent

Malpractice lawsuit outcomes
Settled before trial: 33 percent
Physicians dismissed from lawsuit within first few months: 13 percent
Judge/jury returned a verdict in favor of the physician: 10 percent
Physicians dismissed from lawsuit before settling: 8 percent
Physicians with ongoing cases: 7 percent
Lawsuit dismissed by court: 6 percent
Physicians dismissed from lawsuit before trial: 6 percent
Physicians voluntarily dismissed by plaintiff before trial: 6 percent
Other: 6 percent
Lawsuit settled at trial: 2 percent
Judge/jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff: 2 percent

Percentage of physicians who said lawsuit negatively affected their medical careers: 29 percent

Changes physicians made as a result of lawsuits
None: 52 percent
Physicians who said they no longer trust patients or treat them differently: 24 percent
Other: 21 percent
Physicians who left the practice setting: 7 percent
Physicians who changed their insurer: 3 percent
Physicians who purchased more malpractice insurance: 2 percent

Percentage of physicians named in a malpractice lawsuit for an allegation related to COVID-19: 0 percent

Percentage of physicians who said they're concerned about being sued for malpractice for an allegation related to COVID-19: 13 percent

To view the full report, click here.

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