New study finds patterns in medical malpractice claims

A recent study provides a profile of the medical providers most commonly the subjects of medical malpractice claims.

New Mexico residents have every right to be concerned about the safety of their health care. Many reports in recent years have indicated that medical errors have grown to be involved in a large number of deaths in the United States. Even when patients survive, they can still be subjected to serious injuries.

A study released by the New England Journal of Medicine took a look at medical malpractice claims in America and saw some patterns that may provide some insight into these situations. Information from the U.S. National Practitioner Data Bank from January 2005 through December 2014 was used in the study.

Small percentage of providers cause large amount of damage.

Internists, obstetricians and gynecologists, general surgeons, and family practitioners together represented 41 percent of paid claims. In addition to this, the study also brought to light that male providers over the age of 35 who had been the subject of previous malpractice cases were involved in a disproportionate number of paid claims.

Over the 10-year period, the study found that more than 66,000 medical malpractice suits resulted in payouts to claimants. It also found that 32 percent of all claims paid involved only one percent of all providers. Further details revealed that many providers who had been the subjects of more than one suit that ended in a payout had a higher chance of losing the next one.

Causes of payouts

Together, death and significant physical injuries accounted for 70 percent of all payments for medical negligence over the 10 years. Emotional trauma on its own was involved in only two percent of suits that resulted in damage awards to plaintiffs.

New Mexico laws at a glance

Medical negligence statutes of limitation are extremely complicated. There are different periods of time to file suit dependent on who the negligent provider is and who that person purchased insurance from. The government's health care providers, both state and federal have completely different statute of limitations as well. Only an experienced malpractice lawyer that has reviewed a person's medical records can credibly calculate the statute of limitations for any medical negligence case.

What should New Mexico residents do?

Certainly people deserve to feel safe in the level of care they receive from doctors or other health care providers. One thing that may be helpful when seeking care is to research the provider's history. The hospitals keep certain information confidential and it cannot be accessed. It is wise to talk to a lawyer if an error is suspected. Doing this promptly may help to avoid losing out on the opportunity to seek and receive compensation when needed.