Which speciality gets sued the most?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by MoeDaMan, Jul 22, 2001.

  1. MoeDaMan

    MoeDaMan Senior Member
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    I've hear that OBGYN's get sued the most? is that true? I was thinking about going to OBGYN, seemed like a happy profession :D

    bringing a life intot he world, but y would it have the highest number of lawsuits? :confused:

    what professions get sued the least?
     
  2. Hope88

    Hope88 Senior Member
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    I think OB/GYNs get sued so often because they can legally be held liable for all the babies that they deliver until those kids are 21 (or some equally ridiculous age).
     
  3. Billie

    Billie An Oldie but a Goodie...
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    Being an OB, you are around people during a very emotional (usually joyous) time in their life. They are expecting you to give them one sweet little package. If they get anything different (unhealthy, deformed, or worse) everyone looks to YOU. Why didn't you prevent this? Why didn't you foresee this with all the testing? What did YOU do that caused my baby to be stillborn?

    Plus I think Hope is correct too. You can be sued for years after the baby is born.

    Billie
     
  4. ckent

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    Ob/Gyn's usually pay the highest in malpractice insurance. I've heard of some Ob/Gyn's having to pay 100,000 dollars or more on malpractice insurance alone. Malpractice insurance companies hate dealing with things going wrong with births, they usually settle with astronomical settlements whenever they are sued because they are afraid of going to court and the prospect of lawyers showing an injured baby in front of a jury. That's why there are so many commercials on TV for lawyers looking for people with babies born with cerebral palsy or other things. They know that there is a big payoff if they can prove that the doctor's care was any different from the "standard" even if there is no proof that the baby's condition could have been improved had the doctor done anything else. A lot of Ob/Gyns and Family doctors drop the ob part of their practice as they get older because they are tired of getting sued.
     
  5. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    Neurosurgery is another one of those specialties that tends to be sued quite a bit. The brain is incredibly complex and each one is unique. There are many complications that can arise during surgery, and damage is often profound and irreversible.
     
  6. MoeDaMan

    MoeDaMan Senior Member
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    Until the age of 21!?!?

    come on that is a joke right? :rolleyes:

    so what fields get sued the least?
     
  7. Popoy

    Popoy SDN Super Moderator
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    Pathologist I think get sued the least....
     
  8. Hope88

    Hope88 Senior Member
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    No joke...that's only what my own OB/GYN told me.
     
  9. jawurheemd

    jawurheemd xx ToXiC xx
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    I'll sue the OB who delivered our baby if he doesn't get in to an Ivy League because something most have gone wrong with the delivery that precluded him from getting into the school that he was truly destined for. (While I am joking here, I have heard of lawsuits along these lines -- crazy world).

    -James
     
  10. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator
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    Believe it or not, Moe, but I think that, on average, Ob/Gyn's are some of the most UNhappy doc's that I have met! You wouldn't think so since it seems like it should be such a happy profession -- delivering babies and all. Ob/Gyn's have very high-stress jobs -- as others have said, in childbirth everyone is expecting a perfect delivery with a perfect baby, but things don't always work out that way. With great joy comes great sorrow, and in childbirth some of the most devastating disasters can occur. This really can have a huge effect on the Ob/Gyn. In addition, the hours are awful -- not only during their very difficult residency, but also when they are out of residency and in a practice.

    Although I have met some Ob/Gyn's who really love what they do -- but it really seems like a minority.
     
  11. Firebird

    Firebird 1K Member
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    Three cheers for pathology
     
  12. Popoy

    Popoy SDN Super Moderator
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    Another one is Radiologist :D
     
  13. kris

    kris Senior Member
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    Are you sure pathologists get sued the least? I have no idea, but in chatting with great pumpkin the other night I know they get sued.

    Paths are the ones who examine all the lumps, etc. removed from your body. If they make a mistake about whether your lump was malignant, they get sued.

    I guess I assumed that made them pretty good targets for lawsuits.

    If I weren't so lazy I'd actually go look this up somewhere. ;)
     
  14. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator
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    I agree that Pathologists do get sued more than you would expect. Also, radiologists get sued quite a bit: especially those radiologists that read mammograms. Mammograms are typically used for screening purposes, so a radiologist will go through a hundred of them before they see an abnormal one -- and the abnormal mammograms can be REALLY subtle. It's very common that they miss things on films that turn out to be abnormal, and then the lawyer steps in...

    Another group that gets sued a lot are Emergency Medicine physicians. They can be easy targets because they don't have a long-standing relationship with a patient, and patients often don't have a problem suing docs that they don't know.

    What I have heard is that it's usually the professions that don't build up a long-standing relationship with their patients that get sued a lot. Patients tend not to sue their family doctor, because they have had a 10-year-long relationship with that doctor. It's the doctors that the patient doesn't get to know who become the targets. But, the best way to avoid lawsuits is through open communication, and caring and understanding attitudes with patients.
     
  15. Popoy

    Popoy SDN Super Moderator
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    Nope I wasn't sure.... Thought I'd put it up there and see if other peeps would respond.... I was too lazy at the time to actually look it up as well, like yourself.... :D

    Thanks for the info, I was hoping that GP would be here to clarify it....

    Thanks for the info, as well, ajm....
     
  16. Medic171

    Medic171 Senior Member
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    Just remember when you start to practice that nobody ever sues somebody that they like, so just maintain good Dr./PT relationships!

    As for the least sued specialty..that would be full time forensic pathology/medical examiners. It is hard to get sued by a dead guy that was killed by other means. They do' however' spend plenty of time in court ;)
     
  17. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    I believe the most sued awards go to Ob-Gyn,Anesth, Neurosurgery and Ortho, especially those who do Spinal surgery.

    Least? I would have guessed Path and Rads myself although with the caveat that they DO get sued, especially those doing screening exams (as noted earlier).
     
  18. MoeDaMan

    MoeDaMan Senior Member
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    Thanks so much kimberly ur the best :D

    SIGH though!!

    My major was neuroscience, because I wanted to go into neurosurgery....and then I found out about the high mortality rate and it just seems TO DEPRESSING :(

    So my next two choices were OBGYN and ORTHO....sigh!!! high lawsuits huh? :( oh well there goes my top three choices....sigh

    is there any surgery speciality that doens't get their b*tt sued? cuz I really want to go into surgery.... :p
     
  19. Winged Scapula

    Winged Scapula Cougariffic!
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    Probably Derm! But any specialty in which you do procedures will likely incur higher malpractice rates. Consider this: while surgical specialties do indeed have higher malpractice rates they also make more money - perhaps it doesn't make much difference in the long run if you are doing what you really want to do.
     
  20. mary

    mary Member
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    So, what about Urology? Do they get sued a lot since it is a surgical subspecialty? In my limited knowledge, they do have more of a long term relationship with patients than a lot of other surgical specialties. Just wondering... thanks.
     
  21. Pathologists get sued too for misdiagnosis. Anyone is open to getting sued; it's part of the grand-pageantry of life! :rolleyes:

    BTW: Anesthesiology is one of the most sued medical professions.
     
  22. Future GI Guy

    Future GI Guy Hoo Hoo....
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    It is true that Obs and Peds can get sued anytime between birth and 21 years of age, at least in Missouri.

    The University of Colorado publishes Malpractice annual rates per trainee...and this should give you some idea of where the professions stand in relation to each other.

    Thus, Occupational, Preventive, and PM and R are the lowest rates by far. Ob and Neurosurgery are the highest:

    MALPRACTICE Annual Rates per trainee
    Department
    Anesthesiology 1212
    Dermatology 1010
    Family Medicine 1346
    Internal Medicine 1010
    Neurology 1010
    Obstetrics and Gynecology 3635
    Occupational Medicine 542
    Ophthalmology 1010
    Orthopedics 3231
    Otolaryngology 1347
    Pathology 1010
    Pediatrics 1010
    Preventive Medicine 542
    Psychiatry 542
    Radiology 1010
    Rehabilitation Medicine 672
    Surgery 2760
    * Thoracic Surgery 3231
    * Neurosurgery 5520
    * Urology 1346
     
  23. Future GI Guy

    Future GI Guy Hoo Hoo....
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    Something I failed to make clear in the previous post. These rates are for Residents only. My assumption is that they reflect (at least in relation to each other) Medical Malpractice rates for all professions.

    The link to this website is:
    http://www.uchsc.edu/sm/gme/malpract.htm
     
  24. Atlas

    Atlas Senior Member
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    I'm sorry. Am I missing something? What do these annual rates mean? Are they average figures for how much docs pay per year for malpractice insurance?

    Please clarify.

    Thanks!
     
  25. Atlas

    Atlas Senior Member
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    Also,

    Where would Nephrology stand on the most/least sued list?
     
  26. Future GI Guy

    Future GI Guy Hoo Hoo....
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    I believe they are the annual rates for residents in training at the University of Colorado. They are NOT the rates for physicians who already practice on their own, and thus, would have more responsibility for the patient. (a higher rate)

    I placed these figures only to show the relative rates, i.e. malpractice rates relative to each other.

    Of course, each insurance company charges different rates, and if you're interested in finding those out (for a Board Certified physician), you'd have to go to their website.

    Also, I don't know about nephrology because subspecialties are rarely listed on these kinds of things. There are too many of them.
     
  27. Ludy

    Ludy Senior Member
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    I have info from 1996 on average malpractice insurance rates for MDs... nephrology was $6340, compared with $6000 for general internists, $48,000 for neurosurgeons, $24,000 for general surgeons, $7380 for peds, $11,100 for EM, $5630 for derm, $15,200 for anesthesiology, $46,800 for Ob/gyn, $5250 for path, and $12,000 for radiology, among others. Psych was higher than I would have expected, at $24,000. Something to keep in mind when comparing salaries... brings Ob/gyns's salaries a lot closer to general internists'.
     
  28. Ludy

    Ludy Senior Member
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    Oh, and urology was $13,500 and ortho was $26,000 (but I would imagine it varies depending on how much surgery you do and what type in ortho).
     
  29. md2be06

    md2be06 Senior Member
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    Malpractice rates are definitely going up. My dad's an internist, and his malpractice insurance is going to be close to 20K next year. Granted, he's covered up to $1 million in case anything happens, but still, 20K is pretty steep for internal medicine. You can get a 250K policy for like 10K, but I think the extra coverage with the more expensive policy is worth it cause this society is so litigous.
     
  30. Future GI Guy

    Future GI Guy Hoo Hoo....
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    One comment on the "surprisingly high" Psychiatrist malpractice.

    I worked as a teacher in a Psych hospital before I applied to med school (in the summers b/t University years).

    Psychiatrists can be sued based on the actions of the patient they are responsible for. For instance, if Mr. Smith is discharged from New York Mental Hospital and proceeds to murder his 90 year old neighbor, the murdered victim's family can sue for malpractice.

    It's a totally different slant on things, but it gets at the fact that, regardless of whom we're treating, our actions affect more people than just the patient.
     
  31. kris

    kris Senior Member
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    I'm wondering if anyonw out there can explain to me the high rate of litigation with internists. I'm interested in IM, but wow! My internist told me to be absolutely prepared to get sued--it is just a fact of internal medicine. We didn't get to discuss it much beyond that.

    I'm especially surprised at the disparity between peds and IM rates.

    Any thoughts out there on this?

    Thanks,
    --kris
     
  32. Firebird

    Firebird 1K Member
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    Ok...we've established that every branch of medicine has lawsuits. Now, just out of your all's estimation, what percentage of lawsuits are settled? And out of those that aren't settled, how often do the Dr's lose?

    I'm not looking for solid statistics...just wanting a feel for it.
     
  33. bluegill

    bluegill Member
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    I worked at a law firm for three years, and my uncle is an attorney who defends physicians in malpractice cases.

    I used to be wary of entering medicine because of the horror stories about getting sued. But then I saw that in reality, most of the cases never reach trial, and most physicians are not bothered very often by lawsuits. Physicians pay big dollars for their malpractice insurance. This is so that when you screw up, and someone sues you, your insurance company can attempt to settle the case for you out of court. The way it worked at this law firm was that the attorney's client is actually the insurance company. So when a suit is filed against the physician, said attorney goes to work to minimize the amount of money that the insurance company has to pay the plaintiff. My gut feeling is that far fewer than 50% of these cases ever went to trial.

    I suppose it is different in cases where the physician truly believes that he/she was not negligent and refuses to settle under any circumstances. These cases probably end up in court more often.
     
  34. Ludy

    Ludy Senior Member
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    This is from the Medical Economics July 9th issue:
    "More than 70 percent of malpractice suits are either won by physicians, dismissed, or dropped. When cases go to trial, physicians prevail 80 percent of the time."
    Also:
    "Median jury awards in malpractice cases rose 76 percent between 1996 and 1999 to $800,000, according to Jury Verdict Research of Horsham, PA. (That figure includes awards against hospitals as well as physicians.) Equally disturbing is the increase in the amount of million-dollar awards. St. Paul Companies, the nation's largest malpractice insurer, says the number of such claims doubled from 27 in 1999 to 54 one year later."
    The article was about the rising malpracitce premiums, expected to go up between 8 and 18% both this year and next.
     
  35. ckent

    ckent Membership Revoked
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    Does someone know the statistic of how many women vs men physicians are sued? I remember hearing somewhere that over 90% of malpractice suits are against male physicians meaning that women physicians hardly get sued at all.
     
  36. bluegill

    bluegill Member
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    Not necessarily. You have to take into account the percentage of total patient visits by male doctors versus female doctors. I don't know any stats on this, but my hunch is that better than 70% of total patient visits in the last twenty years were with male doctors.

    Nowadays and into the future, I expect that patient visits will be split closer to 50%/50% male and female. But over the last 20 years, I bet it was still tilted toward men due to more men admitted to medical school and more women doctors going part-time or leaving practice.
     
  37. im4real

    im4real Senior Member
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    Yep! OB malpractice insurance is a killer (no pun intended! ha!). My sister is an Ob/Gyn and her group she has been with has been sued as a group and as individual phsicians. My husband in family medicine does not want to do Ob because of the high malpractice insurance. I can't blame him there.

    Another side note, I remember when my sister was doing her residency in Ob/Gyn, she had to appear in court for law suit. This was as a resident; however, she was a witness. It's amazing all the suits out there. One of the residents' husbands is a lawyer and her father-in-law is a judge. I wonder if she'll ever get sued??? ;)

    Christy
     
  38. nyskindr

    nyskindr Senior Member
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    Since women have traditionally been poorly represented in the high risk specialties it not suprising that they have been sued less in the past.As women fill up obGyn residencies and other such fields the disparity will change.I have never heard that women as a group are sued less because of their gender..
     

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