Malpractice Risk According to Physician Specialty

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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