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Study Says Malpractice May Not Be As Big A Worry As Thought

Doctors concerned about malpractice suits may not need to worry as much. According to a study done at Indiana University’s School of Medicine, most claims against doctors don’t even go to court.

Dr. Aaron Carroll is an assistant professor of pediatrics. He says researchers were interested in looking at actual cases against doctors, including cases that were settled. Carroll looked at cases from the Physician Insurer Association of America over a 20 year period. He says the number of claims were stable over that time, as was the number of settlements. Carroll says 68 percent of claims are dropped, while 20 percent are settled. He says only five percent of claims actually go to trial, and of those four percent, four out of five reach verdicts in favor of the doctor. Carroll says everybody relies on anecdotes and stories of lawsuits, when they probably shouldn’t.

Carroll says he isn’t minimizing the pain and stress of a lawsuit, but he says doctors probably don’t need to be reacting to the idea that lawsuits are very prevalent. He says one piece of data the researchers did not look at is the cost of pediatrician malpractice insurance. Carroll says if insurance is going up while the number of cases actually going to court stays low, those numbers need to be studied further.

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