7 Shocking Statistics on Medical Malpractice
Most of us are aware that medical malpractice occurs in the U.S., but have no idea of its prevalence. To stay informed and aware when dealing with healthcare providers, take a look at these malpractice statistics.
Medical malpractice is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S.
A Johns Hopkins study revealed that over 250,000 people die each year due to medical errors. Other studies suggest that this figure could be as high as 440,000 thousand as many errors go unreported or detected. These figures place medical malpractice as the biggest cause of death after heart disease and cancer.
Misdiagnosis is the most common malpractice claim
Approximately 33 percent of medical malpractice claims between 2013 and 2017 related to a mistaken or missed diagnosis. About 52 percent of these claims related to lab testing errors, while 33 percent involved a medical professional’s poor evaluation of the patient. Of all the misdiagnosis claims, about 36 percent caused patient death.
Surgical errors are the second most common malpractice claim.
About 24 percent of malpractice claims relate to surgical errors. WebMD estimates that over 4,000 preventable surgical errors occur each year. Most of these errors include leaving a foreign object inside the patient’s body, performing the wrong procedure, or even operating on the wrong body part.
Doctors often attribute medical errors to a heavy workload.
A 2013 John Hopkins survey of 506 hospitalist physicians (doctors who treat in hospitals) found that 40 percent believed their high workload compromised patient safety. Many noted that their full schedule didn’t allow them to thoroughly discuss treatment options with patients, delayed patient admissions or discharges, and even sometimes contributed to complications or mortality.
Most doctors will have a malpractice suit filed against them.
Sixty-one percent of doctors age 55 and older have faced a malpractice suit at least once. The doctors most likely to be sued are general practice physicians and obstetricians.
Medical malpractice payouts total billions
In 2018, U.S. defendants paid more than $4.03 billion to plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases, while the average payout was $348,065. The Expert Institute predicts that the national average will increase in 2019.
Pennsylvania has the second-highest state average for payouts.
Pennsylvania had a medical malpractice payout average of $405,978 in 2018 based on 909 claims, while the total payout in the state was $369,034,250. Only New York state had a higher payment average at $446,461.