A new study conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, has found that the number of medical malpractice claims paid by physicians have substantially decreased over the last two decades. The study, entitled “Rates and Characteristics of Paid Malpractice Claims Among U.S. Physicians by Specialty, 1992-2014,” is one of the first of its kind, as it analyzes and categorizes the data by medical specialty.
The study, published online by the American Medical Association’s medical journal, JAMA Internal Medicine, was conducted for the purpose of characterizing by specialty the trends in medical malpractice claims paid on behalf of United States physicians. The National Practitioner Data Bank, a centralized database of paid medical malpractice claims, was utilized by the researchers to gather data from 1992 to 2014. All dollar amounts were adjusted to 2014 dollars using the Consumer Price Index.
The researchers found that over the course of the twenty-two year time period, the overall rate of medical malpractice claims paid on behalf of all United States physicians decreased by 55.7 percent.
The research indicated that the most common allegations of malpractice were misdiagnosis (31.8 percent of all claims), errors related to surgical procedures (26.9 percent), and treatment-related mistakes (24.5 percent). Approximately 32 percent of all paid claims involved the death of a patient.