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Medical Malpractice Statistics

Medical Malpractice Statistics

You have to go through these medical malpractice statistics to get a glimpse of the dark side of the revered medical field.
Abhijit Naik
Did You Know?
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind heart disease and cancer.

In most cases, medical malpractice is attributed to misdiagnoses. At times, however, it's a serious medical or criminal offense done on purpose. Regardless of whether it's misdiagnoses or a deliberate attempt to fleece the patient, it is difficult to forgive an act which costs someone his/her life.

An Overview
Definition: Medical malpractice is a specific legal term which defines an act of negligence on the part of a professional health care provider, which may result in further complications in the condition of the patient, even resulting in death.

It is most likely to occur when health care providers deviate from the accepted standards either by mistake or deliberately. Cases of medical malpractice range from misdiagnoses of a disease as serious as cancer, to a botched up delivery which may cause some harm to the child.

Some of the most common instances of wrongful activities in the medical field include ...
» Anesthesia errors
» Birth injury
» Cancer misdiagnoses
» Dental malpractice
» Institutional sexual abuse
» Medical errors
» Nursing home abuse
» Surgery mistakes

Medical Malpractice Statistics
An estimated 200,000 people in the United States alone bear the brunt of medical negligence every year. Yet, only 15 percent of the personal-injury lawsuits filed annually are cases of medical malpractice.

According to the Diederich Healthcare, USD 3.8 billion were spent in medical malpractice payouts in the United States in 2014; an increase of 4.4 percent from 2013. It's also worth noting that this is the second consecutive year that an increase in the payout amount has been recorded.

The state of New York once again topped the list, shelling out USD 713 million in payouts in 2014. Interestingly, the northeastern states together accounted for nearly half the cases of payout at 46.17 percent for the year.

The incidence of medical malpractice cases was higher in in-patient settings. Of the total payouts made in 2014, 46 percent were in-patient cases and 40 percent were out-patient cases.

As for gender-wise break up, 53 percent of the cases in 2014 involved female patients. Male patients accounted for the remaining 45 percent of the cases.

In 30 percent of the cases seen in 2014, the patient had died because of medical negligence. In 35 percent of the cases, the patient had suffered significant or major permanent injury. Additionally, there were 13 percent cases where the patient had sustained injury which required lifelong care.

In 2014, the most common cases of malpractice were attributed to error in diagnoses, accounting for around 33 percent of the total cases. While 24 percent of the cases were related to surgery, 19 and 5 percent were related to treatment and medication respectively.

Surprisingly, one of the worst offense featuring in the list of medical malpractices is sexual misconduct. In a survey, 60 percent of the psychiatrists in the United States confessed that they had sexual contact with their patients.

In 2013, approximately 96 percent of the payouts came from settlements, while 3 percent came from court rulings.

Medical malpractice lawyers are not shy of banking on the opportunities that come their way. For every dollar spent on the compensation for these cases of malpractices, 54 cents go to the administrative officials, i.e., the lawyers and experts.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
In the court of law, the plaintiff―most often the patient or the relative of the patient―is expected to prove that the injury or casualty was caused as a result of negligence on the part of the medical fraternity, while the defendant―most often the representative of the health care facility―is expected to defend the institute against these allegations.

Of the 1,400 physicians surveyed by the Medscape Medical News, 74 percent said that the lawsuit came as a surprise for them. More importantly, 29 percent of physicians stated that they no longer trusted the patients.

Of late, doctors have started resorting to a defensive approach. Most of them recommend a series of tests to rule out the chances of misdiagnoses, which can eventually lead to complications. While that can become a matter of inconvenience for patients at times, a bit of inconvenience is anytime better than the problems associated with misdiagnoses.