As a Broward County medmal attorney, I do not agree with a recent report indicating that researchers from Harvard, University of Southern Californian and the Rand Corporation, finding that doctors who specialize in areas considered “low-risk” like pediatricians and psychiatrist are less likely to get sued in comparison with “high-risk” specialties like surgeons, particularly neurosurgeons. .
According to the report, over 19% of neurosurgeons face medical negligence lawsuits yearly. The report outlines the following ten medical specialties as those most likely to be sued:
2. Thoracic-cardiovascular surgeons
3. General surgeons
4. Orthopedic surgeons
5. Plastic surgeons
Dermatologists, pathologists, nephrologists, ophthalmologists, diagnostic radiologists, anesthesiologists and emergency medicine doctors were ranked the least likely to get sued.
The study found that gynecologists, not obstetricians, were the most likely to settle out of court yet are only the 12th most likely to be sued by a patient in the first place. Conversely neurosurgeons, the most likely to be sued, are also most likely to have to pay a malpractice claim with an average payment of $344,811. The average claim paid by pediatricians is $520,924, and for pathologists, $383,509. Many injured patients imagine their claim to be worth over $1million dollars. Surprisingly, the study revealed only 66 cases where verdicts or payments exceeded that amount.
What the study seems to not reflect is the reality of the cost in bringing a medical malpractice claim to court. The up-front cost of obtaining records, experts and preparing a case for trial can be in excess of $100,000.
Most states, including Florida, have caps on jury verdicts for damages which deter lawyers from pursuing low value cases or claims against uninsured doctors or clinics. With the tremendous financial and legal obstacles facing anyone injured by a doctor or hospital in Florida, as a Florida hospital injury lawyer can assure you that, contrary to the media hype regarding baseless medical malpractice claims, no frivolous claims are being filed. Sadly, the public does not understand the true safety value of medical malpractice litigation as a means to force healthcare providers to practice within and above the standard of care, which will keep us all from being injured.
To read more about the correlation between patient safety and medical malpractice claims read the Rand Study.