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10 Incredible Medical Malpractice Statistics

Don’t believe that you’ll always receive the best care and doctors will enforce best practices. Whether the doctor is incompetent, negligent, or makes a simple mistake with patient records, medical malpractices occur every day in America.

 Some of the statistics are actually hard to believe.

The Top 10 Malpractice Stats

Failure to Diagnose or Misdiagnose – Most people believe doctors are the smartest people on the planet. Although I believe they are genuinely smart individuals, everyone is human and makes mistakes.

But I never thought that approximately 10%-20% of cases are misdiagnosed or failed diagnoses. When you see the doctor, information may not be present at the time to make an accurate decision so most doctors play the “better safe than sorry” approach to medicine. This causes continual diagnoses failure of patients until their health spirals out of control.

General surgery physicians Are Most Likely to be Sued – About 70% of physicians in specialty areas of surgery have been sued throughout their careers, and about 50% have been sued twice. Talk about not learning from your mistakes.

Older Physicians Are More Likely to Malpractice – As doctors age, they lose the sharpness they once had. Although their knowledge base is higher, application and practice are sometimes compromised. Over 60% of doctors older than 55 years of age were sued in 2007-2008. If you’re getting a major surgery done, it’s best to find someone in their prime.

You Won’t Get Rich From Damages – Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, patients filed lawsuits all the time against physicians and obtained obscene amounts of money via damages. The courts found that people were often suing for minor imperfections in care, resulting in a re-work of the judicial system towards malpractice suits. Now, claims brought against physicians rarely result in payments to the plaintiff and often cost too much money for continual pursuit. More than 63% of malpractice lawsuits are settled outside of the courtroom.

Payouts Are Less – Even if you do sue a physician for cash, the payouts are extremely low for the hassle required to win the case. In 2012, only approximately 12,000 malpractice payouts were made for $3 billion, which seems like a lot of cash but that’s only $250,000.00 per client on average. Court and lawyer fees and the cost of time and extent of the damage payout are minimal. The average $250,000 may not be include full damage payout, but also incorporates hospital costs and insurance reimbursements.

You Won’t See a Judge – As stated previously, most malpractice lawsuits are settled outside of the courtroom. In fact, over the last couple of years, approximately 90% of payouts were settled outside of court. Judgments on malpractice cases are seldom pursued because the physician does not want to go to court and either do you. This usually results in lower payouts across the board.

If You Live in Florida, You’re In Luck – Florida ranks in the top five states for payouts due to malpractice lawsuits in the country and continues to grow in stature. Not only are the amount of suits prevalent, but the totals are extremely high per lawsuit. Florida consistently pays out over 200 million dollar a year to plaintiffs in medical malpractice suits. New York currently holds the number one spot.

They Are Justified – Over 30% of malpractice lawsuits are due to death a of the patient. That statistic is almost double the next severity case, which is permanent injury.

Type of Patient Matters in Malpractice Suit – Statistically, inpatient services are most likely to payout in lawsuits than other facilities such as outpatient facilities or conjunctive offices. Over the course of a few years, inpatient services have ranked first in payouts at roughly 45% per year.

Middle-Aged People Get the Most – This statistic is interesting because of our natural response to, “Who do you think wins the most malpractice cases?”

 In fact, patients 80 years of age or older account for the lowest amount of malpractice payouts, even though many people, myself included, believe that older patients are most likely to die or become injured from medical malpractice. Contrary to popular belief, the group accounting for the highest number of malpractice payouts is persons between the ages of 40-59 years. 

This article was written by Matthew Hall.  Matt is currently a law student at Stetson Law in Sanford, FL.  When Matt is not busy studying for is law classes, he enjoys researching and writing articles on various topics of law.  Matt has recently been authoring articles on behalf of Heil-Law, the premier medical malpractice attorney in Central, FL.  If you would like to read more of Matt's work, you can visit him on Google+.

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