The cost of fighting medical liability lawsuits
■ Selected articles on trends, challenges and controversies in the changing world of medicine
Posted May 21, 2012
When a doctor faces a medical liability suit, the financial and emotional strain can last long after the litigation is resolved.
Most doctors will be sued at least once, and physicians say a broken legal system shows the need for national and state reforms. American Medical News has reported about the average financial cost of defending against such suits. Going through the legal ordeal can leave physicians mentally and physically exhausted as well, and a strong support network is essential to enduring the process.
A study in The New England Journal of Medicine released in April reported that the cost of successfully defending a physician’s medical liability lawsuit averages $17,130. A separate study released in 2011 by the American Medical Association placed that figure substantially higher. Read more
Neurosurgeons are sued more often than other doctors, according to research issued in August 2011. By the time they reach age 65, 75% of doctors in low-risk specialties will have been the target of a lawsuit. For high-risk specialties, the figure is 99%. However, of the average 7.4% of physicians who face a claim each year, only 1.6% made payments to plaintiffs. Read more
Some physicians aren’t quite the same after they fight a liability suit. There are legal filings, disruptions at the practice and questions about one’s worth as a physician. But some come through the experience stronger and confident that they are meant to practice medicine. Read more