Blog | Friday, May 18, 2012

QD: News Every Day--Biggest fear of malpractice suits is the time-drain

Nearly 80% of malpractice verdicts are in favor of the doctor, while less than 3% of cases against internists and medicine-based subspecialists ultimately reach a trial verdict.

A research letter published online in Archives of Internal Medicine looked at more than 10,000 cases from 2002 to 2005.

From all claims, 55.2% of all specialties resulted in litigation, while the rate among internists and medicine-based subspecialists was slightly lower, at 53.5%.

Cases were dismissed by the court 54.1% of the time across all specialties, but more often among cases against internists and medicine-based subspecialists, at 61.5%.

With the outcomes so slanted, it's more often the time tied up in litigation, the authors wrote. The mean time required to close a malpractice claim was 19 months, with the mean for litigated claims being just over 25 months.

"While most claims were ultimately decided in a physician's favor, that resolution came only after months or years," the authors wrote. "The substantial portion of litigated claims that are not dismissed in court and the length of time required to resolve litigated claims more generally may help explain why malpractice claims undergoing litigation are an important source of concern to physicians."