Medical malpractice is a substantial issue and topic. Following the release of Coverys’ A Call for Action: Insights From a Decade of Malpractice Claims, we have compiled a snapshot of key statistics and trends that all patients should be aware of.
Related reading: What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical Malpractice: Specialties
Before getting into the numbers, here are the definitions of each specialty that you should be familiar with:
General medicine deals with the diagnosis and (nonsurgical) treatments of diseases of the internal organs.
Obstetrics is a branch of medicine and surgery that deals with pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
Surgery is a branch of medicine that treats various conditions by physically removing, repairing, or readjusting organs and tissues.
Anesthesiology is a branch of medicine that deals with the total perioperative care of patients before, during, and after surgery.
Emergency Medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with the care of illnesses or injuries requiring immediate medical attention.
Medical Malpractice: Claims Statistics
The total claim rates by specialty per 100 physicians for 2020 are as follows:
- General Medicine: 3.8
- Obstetrics: 9.5
- Surgery: 10.1
- Anesthesiology: 2.3
- Emergency Medicine: 5.2
Medical Malpractice: Claims Trends
The five top allegation categories are as follows:
- Medical Treatment
Top 5 Surgery/Procedure-Related Allegations
- Performance Issues - 78%
- Retained Object - 7.1%
- Unnecessary Surgeries - 3.5%
- Wrong Side/Site/Patient - 3.4%
- Delay in Surgery - 2.7%
Additional Insights: General and orthopedic surgery accounted for 33% of all surgery/procedure-related allegations.
Top 5 Diagnosis-Related Allegations
- History & Physical/Evaluation of Patient - 32%
- Interpretation of Tests - 23.9%
- Ordering Diagnostic/Lab Tests - 23.5%
- Referral Management - 7.5%
- Follow-Up with Patient - 5%
Additional Insights: Cancer, infection, and cardiac/vascular conditions were the top missed or delayed diagnoses.
Top 5 Medical Treatment Allegations
- Management of Treatment - 67.2%
- Delay in Treatment or Procedure - 14.1%
- Failure to Treat - 12.5%
- Not/Improperly Performed Resuscitation - 2.3%
- Unnecessary Treatment - 1.3%
Additional Insights: 43% of all medical treatment allegations involve a high-severity injury or death – a much higher rate than other specialties.
Top 5 Medication-Related Allegations
- Ordering Medication - 31.0%
- Monitoring/Management - 29.6%
- Administration of Medication - 21.0%
- Wrong Medication - 12.5%
- Dispensing, Error-Route, Dose, Pharmacy - 4.0%
Additional Insights: 42% of all medication-related allegations involved one of the following three medications: opioids, anti-coagulants, or antibiotics.
Top 5 Obstetrics-Related Allegations
- Management of Labor - 37.0%
- Performance of Delivery - 29.1%
- Management of Pregnancy - 23.6%
- Postpartum Management/Complications - 6.6%
- Delivery Method Choice - 3.7%
Additional Insights: The overall management of pregnancy and postpartum complications have become more prevalent.
Medical Malpractice: Top Causes
Breakdowns in the following are repeatedly quoted as the top contributing factors to medical errors and negligence:
- Clinical Judgment
- Clinical Systems
- Technical Skill
Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Medical malpractice, by definition, is preventable.
At Curtis & Co., we dedicate a significant portion of our practice to medical malpractice law. Together, our attorneys have decades of combined legal experience, and a long history of success in holding medical providers and facilities responsible for the immense pain and suffering they cause. We have helped countless victims with severe injuries and life-altering medical complications, as well as the surviving family members of those who tragically pass away due to a trusted provider’s error or negligence, fight for the justice and fair compensation they were owed.