Kelly Young, Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, FASAM

A small percentage of physicians in the U.S. account for a substantial proportion of malpractice claims, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers analyzed 66,000 paid malpractice claims from 2005 through 2014. Only 6% of the 900,000 physicians in the U.S. had a paid claim during that period. Roughly 1% of all physicians accounted for a third of all paid claims.

Physicians with more previous claims were at higher risk for future claims. The following specialties had twice the risk as internal medicine for claim recurrence: neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, general surgery, plastic surgery, and obstetrics/gynecology. Men had a 38% higher risk than women.


The authors conclude: “In an environment in which a small minority of physicians with multiple claims accounts for a substantial share of all claims, an ability to reliably predict who is at high risk for further claims could be very useful. Our analysis suggests … the feasibility of such prediction.”


NEJM article (Free abstract)

Background: NEJM Journal Watch General Medicine coverage of lifetime risk for malpractice claims (Free)