Monday, September 12, 2011

Rates of Malpractice Lawsuits Against ER Doctors

       A recent article in the NEJM evaluates the numbers and size of malpractice awards among various specialties. Although there is a common misconception that ER doctors get sued a lot more than other specialties, this study shows that this is not true. ER doctors are actually sued at the same rate as the average physician. According to this study, the specialties associated with the highest malpractice rates include Neurosurgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, General Surgery, OB/GYN, Orthopedic Surgery. The specialties associated with the highest payouts include Pediatrics, Pathology, Neurosurgery and Obstetrics.

       In summary they found that in low risk specialties, 36% of physicians were projected to face their first claim by the age of 45 years, as compared with 88% of physicians in high-risk specialties. By the age of 65 years, 75% of physicians in low-risk specialties and 99% of those in high-risk specialties were projected to face a claim. 55% of physicians in internal medicine and its subspecialties were projected to face a malpractice claim by the age of 45 years, and 89% by the age of 65 years.

In contrast, 80% of physicians in surgical specialties (including general surgery) and 74% of physicians in obstetrics and gynecology were projected to face a claim by the age of 45 years.

This is a link to this article:
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1012370

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