According to a startling finding in a new study from Stanford University and the University of Melbourne, physicians accused of medical malpractice cases can expect to be sued repeatedly.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that a doctor with two professional negligence claims is twice as likely to be sued again as another physician with a single claim. That probability also increases exponentially with additional lawsuits – doctors with six or more paid claims are 12 times more likely to be named in subsequent actions.

What this means, say the study’s authors, is that just one percent of doctors are responsible for 32 percent of all paid malpractice claims.

Although previous claim history was the greatest predictor of whether or not a doctor would be sued again for malpractice, researchers also found a number of other factors as they reviewed 10 years of data from the National Practitioner Data Bank:

  • The risk of recurring claims is particularly acute in certain specialties. Neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, general surgeons, plastic surgeons and obstetrician-gynecologists were twice as likely to have repeated claims as internal medicine doctors. Psychiatrists and pediatricians have the lowest risk.
  • Male doctors were 38 percent more likely to have repeat paid claims than female doctors.
  • Age also appears to be a factor. Taking into consideration years in practice, doctors under 35 were one-third as likely to have repeat paid malpractice claims as older physicians.

In compiling the study, the researchers looked at 66,426 paid malpractice claims involving 54,099 doctors between January 2005 and December 2014. One-third of the claims involved patient deaths, and 54 percent were related to serious physical injury. The average amount claimants recovered was $371,054.

If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, please contact the attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Medical Malpractice Litigation Group to discuss your case.


Richard L. Groffsky

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Richard L. Groffsky

Richard Groffsky focuses his practice on medical malpractice and personal injury litigation, and has represented victims of devastating brain injuries and birth injuries in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, South Carolina, and Georgia in significant brain injury and birth injury cases.