The cost of fighting medical liability lawsuits

Selected articles on trends, challenges and controversies in the changing world of medicine

Posted May 21, 2012

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

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.

Liability defense costly, even when doctors win

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

Most doctors face lawsuits, but few lose them

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

Life after lawsuit: How doctors pick up the pieces

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

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn