Nearly 6 in 10 physicians reported being sued at some point in their career, a recent Medscape report found. To prepare the report (login required), Medscape surveyed 4,300 physicians in over 29 specialties.
Physicians who have been named in a malpractice lawsuit reported spending significant time preparing a defense—42% devoted more than 40 hours to defense-preparing tasks—and found the entire lawsuit process typically lasted one to two years.
What happened with these lawsuits? A third were settled before going to trial. In 11% of cases, the judge/jury ruled in favor of the physician, and the judge/jury ruled in favor of the patient in just 3% of cases.
Nearly 20% of physicians said if they could do anything differently, they would have had better chart documentation of their patient encounters. Following a lawsuit, while nearly half of physicians said it didn’t affect the way they practiced medicine, one-quarter said their trust in patients had been eroded, which made them treat patients differently.
Overall, physicians in specialties are more likely to be sued than physicians in primary care—62% vs. 52%—and certain specialties see significantly more malpractice suits than others.
Top 10 specialties for lawsuits
|Specialty||Percentage of physicians who’ve been sued|
|OB-GYN and women’s health||83%|
The state where a physician practices will also influence the likelihood of lawsuits. Some states have more litigious cultures and lawsuit climates that are more favorable to plaintiffs, Medscape notes.
Top 10 states for lawsuits
|State||Percentage of physicians who’ve been sued|