Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New survey data on the widespread impact of medical liability lawsuits

In a survey of 5,825 physicians across 42 Medicare specialities drawn from the AMA's Physician Practice information survey, some very interesting information has been derived. The survey (on the AMA's website) reports
  • Of general surgeons over age 55, 90% have been sued
  • Of all physicians over age 55, 61% have been sued
They were not able to gather the depth of data I might have liked to see more about, such as the outcome of the claims, how many were dropped, how much settlements were for, etc. But, the accompanying press release does have some data from other sources over a similar time frame as the original survey. AMA Past President, Dr. Rohack, is quoted in regard to the survey about the dramatic negative impact of being sued, even when the charges are dropped. While patients clearly need to be compensated for injuries, isn't there a better way of doing this so that patients are fairly compensated, doctors don't live in constant fear of lawsuits, and other third parties don't get rich off the process of compensating the injured?

Thankfully I've not yet been sued, but apparently if I practice a reasonable career I've got at least an even-money chance of being sued. I wonder, do you get a cake or a greeting card, "Congrats on your first liability claim!"

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