Your Guide to Medical Malpractice

Two people holding hands, one in a hospital bed.

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:

  1. Surgery/Procedure-Related
  2. Diagnosis-Related
  3. Medical Treatment
  4. Medication-Related
  5. Obstetrics-Related

Top 5 Surgery/Procedure-Related Allegations

  1. Performance Issues - 78%
  2. Retained Object - 7.1%
  3. Unnecessary Surgeries - 3.5%
  4. Wrong Side/Site/Patient - 3.4%
  5. 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

  1. History & Physical/Evaluation of Patient - 32%
  2. Interpretation of Tests - 23.9%
  3. Ordering Diagnostic/Lab Tests - 23.5%
  4. Referral Management - 7.5%
  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

  1. Management of Treatment - 67.2%
  2. Delay in Treatment or Procedure - 14.1%
  3. Failure to Treat - 12.5%
  4. Not/Improperly Performed Resuscitation - 2.3%
  5. 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

  1. Ordering Medication - 31.0%
  2. Monitoring/Management - 29.6%
  3. Administration of Medication - 21.0%
  4. Wrong Medication - 12.5%
  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

  1. Management of Labor - 37.0%
  2. Performance of Delivery - 29.1%
  3. Management of Pregnancy - 23.6%
  4. Postpartum Management/Complications - 6.6%
  5. 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
  • Communication
  • Technical Skill
  • Behavior

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.

For a free consultation with one of our New Mexico medical malpractice attorneys, call (505) 871-3740 or reach us online using our secure contact form.

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