Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the following article analyzes malpractice data from 1991 through 2005 for all physicians who were covered by a large professional liability insurer with a nationwide client base. Each year during the study period, 7.4% of all physicians had a malpractice claim, with 1.6% having a claim leading to a payment. The proportion of physicians facing a claim each year ranged from 19.1% in neurosurgery, 18.9% in thoracic–cardiovascular surgery, and 15.3% in general surgery to 5.2% in family medicine, 3.1% in pediatrics, and 2.6% in psychiatry. The authors concluded that the cumulative risk of facing a malpractice claim is high in all specialties, although most claims do not lead to payments to plaintiffs.
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