Briefing Book: Medical Malpractice By the Numbers

Friday, January 6, 2023
All the latest statistics about medical malpractice litigation, cost, access to doctors, insurance, and patient safety. Includes important new COVID updates.

Full Briefing Book

Medical Malpractice Briefing Book: By the Numbers
2023 Highlights

Adding to significant research showing that so-called “defensive medicine” is a myth, researchers found that physicians order tests because they are focused on patient safety not malpractice risks, or “more focused on not harming patients than on not getting sued.”

Medical malpractice premiums are rising even though claims are dropping. “More than 6 in 10 medical groups report their doctors’ malpractice premiums have increased since 2020,” yet "overall claims throughout the United States have dropped.”

Caps on damages harm patients while doing nothing to stop insurance premium price-gouging. Researchers found that while caps drive down insurer costs, premiums do not fall. And “by lowering the risk of suit for malpractice … imposing caps is associated with a 16% increase in adverse events.”

Too many preventable infections are occurring. “Each day, approximately one in 31 U.S. patients and 1 in 43 nursing home residents contracts at least one infection in association with their healthcare.”

The United States health care system is severely failing women. “Among women of reproductive age in high-income countries, rates of death from avoidable causes, including pregnancy-related complications, are highest in the United States.”

Private equity takeover of physician practices is having negative repercussions. As more and more private equity firms take over physician practices, the result is higher health care spending “without commensurate patient benefits.”

Physician profile websites are failing to inform patients of a physician’s malpractice risk. “Only about a third (36%) of Physician Profiles had any information about malpractice settlements or judgments” and “for the states that included some type of information about medical malpractice settlements or judgments, few provided detailed information.”

COVID revealed severe and ongoing nursing home problems. “The COVID-19 pandemic ‘lifted the veil,’ revealing and amplifying long-existing shortcomings in nursing home care such as inadequate staffing levels, poor infection control, failures in oversight and regulation, and deficiencies that result in actual patient harm.”

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