Super Lawyers
Illinois State Bar Association
Justia Lawyer Rating
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Avvo Rating
BBB Accredited Business

Medical Malpractice Statistics: Getting the Compensation You Deserve

medical-malpractice-statistics Statistics show that less than 2% of medical malpractice cases are ever resolved through legal action, and fewer ever receive the financial compensation they deserve for their failing health, injury, pain, suffering, or wrongful death. Were you injured by a medical mistake, or did you lose a loved one through medical malpractice?

Contact the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to schedule a free consultation. Let us discuss your compensation case to ensure your rights are protected.

Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States, just behind heart disease and cancer. An estimated 225,000 people die every year in hospitals due to medical malpractice when the doctor or other professional makes preventable medical errors.

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics data shows that 50% of all medical malpractice suits are filed against surgeons.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a legal term defined as an act or omission by a medical professional while treating someone that deviates from the accepted standards of practice in the medical community. Attorneys use the term medical malpractice as a subset of tort law dealing with professional negligence.

The U.S. justice system defines negligence as care and treatment misconduct based on standards identified by a reasonable person. Typically, medical malpractice does not extend to voluntary assistance to help someone ill or injured, as defined by "Good Samaritan" laws to protect bystanders from being prosecuted or sued for unintentional injuries or wrongful death.

Nearly all medical malpractice lawsuits are filed in state court with the legal authority to hear the evidence and decide. Some cases are filed in federal courts when the litigating parties are from different states or if the plaintiff or defendant's fundamental constitutional right has been violated.

Medical Malpractice Characteristic

Medical malpractice can happen when a healthcare professional, doctor, or hospital acts negligently through an act or omission leading to the patient's injuries. Medical malpractice reports identified the most common examples, including:

Standard of care violation – The justice system understands that professionals use accepted medical treatments that any reasonable health care professional would use under like or similar circumstances. Patients have the right to expect their medical doctor to follow the standards of care. When the standard is not met, the plaintiff has the right to compensation for their damages caused by a negligent act.

Negligence leading to an injury – Valid medical malpractice claims can prove how the health care professional violated the accepted standard of care and how their injuries would not have occurred in the absence of negligence. Simply having an unfavorable outcome or prognosis is not malpractice, but proving that a negligent act caused the injury gives the victim legal standing.

Injury resulting in damages – Typically, only the cases with the most significant damages are ever involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit due to litigation costs. Victims with minor damages might not receive sufficient compensation to pay for the costs of resolving a malpractice claim.

Common medical malpractice cases are filed by plaintiffs who have suffered significant disability, unusual pain, loss of income, pain, suffering, and financial hardship. Usually, these plaintiffs can show significant past, current, and future medical expenses.

Medical Malpractice Examples

Many cases involving medical malpractice result from a doctor, hospital, or medical team's negligent behavior or intentional act or omission that caused the patient's arm. The most common examples include:

Failing to diagnose or a misdiagnosis

Delayed diagnosis

Unnecessary lab tests

Ignoring or misreading laboratory tests results

Unnecessary surgical procedures

Premature hospital or nursing home discharge

Improperly prescribed medications

Overdosing or underdosing prescription drugs

Wrong-site surgeries

Adverse drug interaction

Childbirth mistakes

Defective medical products

Surgical mistakes

Emergency room mistakes

Medication errors

Anesthesia miscalculations

Disregarding the patient's history

Gathering an incomplete patient history

Failing to order the correct test

Medical errors

Failing to recognize a symptom that results in injury

Failing to warn the patient of any known risks of the procedure medication

Medical malpractice claims are not easily provable and nearly impossible to resolve without legal representation. The financial cost of filing a claim against a doctor, hospital, or nursing facility can be expensive.

Medical Malpractice Never Events

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) identifies some conditions and illnesses considered "never events" when abuse and neglect a few of these "never events" include:

Facility-acquired bedsores (pressure sores, pressure wounds, pressure injuries, pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers)

Avoidable falls

Blood incompatibility

Air embolism

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

Urinary catheter infection

Surgical site infection

Leaving objects in the body during surgery

According to the Institute of Medicine, many medical malpractice cases go unreported or unnoticed, making it challenging to estimate how many people are unnecessarily injured or killed through medical negligence. The Journal of the American Medical Association released statistics that include:

Medical Malpractice Statistics and Facts

Over 225,000 people die every year in the United States from medical malpractice

Nearly 120,000 deaths are the result of medical negligence by health care providers

Unnecessary surgeries have resulted in 12,000 deaths each year

Approximately 7000 deaths are reported every year caused by hospital errors

More than 20,000 deaths occur from hospital medical staff making medical errors

Researchers identified 80,000 patients who die every year from preventable infections

More than 107,000 deaths are the result of medical malpractice involving drug-adverse effects

Up to one percent of all hospital patients will become a victim of malpractice

Approximately 2% of medical malpractice victims will file a compensation claim

There are four reported injuries for every death caused by medical malpractice and hospitals

Nearly 5% of all physicians in the United States are responsible for 50% of medical malpractice claims

Approximately 95% of all medical malpractice claims have legal standing

Emergency room mistakes cause more than 50% of all medical malpractice deaths

Medical malpractice cases in New York are resolved for more money than any other state, including Illinois that ranks sixth.

Over 27% of all medical malpractice awards were paid by less than 2% of all physicians in the US

Approximately one out of 20 (5%) patients victimized by medical malpractice received compensation through a negotiated settlement

Less than 1% of all medical malpractice cases are heard in front of a judge and jury, and the remainder are resolved through a negotiated settlement

More than 99.99% of all plaintiffs lose their medical malpractice claims at trial

Court judges reduce jury awards paid to claimants in over 70% of claims

Attorneys working for hospitals and physicians can avoid paying 80% of the tangible and non-tangible injuries inflicted on patients and surviving family members

Proving that the medical professional violated the general standard of care is a crucial component to successfully resolving a medical malpractice claim

The high cost of litigation typically limits the number of compensation claims filed every year to the plaintiffs who have suffered the most severe injury

Personal injury attorneys will typically cover the upfront costs of filing a claim or lawsuit against the health care provider until the case is resolved

The leading misdiagnosed conditions by physicians include heart attacks, cancer, and meningitis

The statute of limitation in most jurisdictions restricts the amount of time to file a case to two years

Many medical professionals never face any disciplinary action for committing grave negligence resulting in permanent injury, critical harm, or the patient's death

Approximately 100,000 deaths in the United States each year are the result of a diagnostic error

Nearly 33% of all medical malpractice claims involve diagnosis errors followed by surgical errors (23%), treatment negligence (18%), obstetric problems (10%), and anesthesia/medication errors (10%).

More medical malpractice suits are filed against primary care physicians (16%) misdiagnosing their patient or making a medication error

The medical professional can be guilty of negligence during a diagnosis, treatment, or providing medical advice and recommendations after the illness has been treated

Most medical malpractice suits involve an illness misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis that led to the plaintiff's substantial harm that could have been prevented

Hundreds of medical malpractice cases each year involved in attending Physician's sexual misconduct, with many claims going unreported

Physicians failing to obtain the patient's informed consent to treatment, prescription, or procedure could be considered medical malpractice

Failing to properly notify the patient of all inherent risks of the medication or procedure could be considered medical malpractice

A third of all hospital patients will be victimized by a medical mistake

Medical malpractice premiums cost less than 50% of the total health care costs

Less than a third of 1% of all health care costs are spent on medical malpractice in the US, involving medical errors that cost the healthcare system more than $29 billion annually

State medical boards discipline about 17% of all physicians that have already paid out compensation to resolve five medical malpractice suits

Medical professionals facing medical malpractice claims could include health care providers, physicians, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, counselors, hospitals, dentists, dental assistants, dental hygienists, and physical therapists.

Medical Malpractice Common Myths

Johns Hopkins Hospital statistics reveal that more than twice as many people die and hospitals every year than car accident victims in the United States. However, hospitals are not required to record or track medical errors, meaning that patient deaths could be significantly higher than the data shows.

Legal Medical Malpractice Statistics and Facts

Most states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin, have medical malpractice damage caps that limit the amount of compensation the injured party can receive through a negotiated settlement or jury award.

Medical malpractice payments over the last decade averaged over $348,000

New York State medical malpractice payments by insurance companies totaled more than $7 billion in the last decade

North Dakota had the lowest medical malpractice payouts at just over $28 million

Over the last decade, injured victims and surviving family members reported more than 85,000 incidents of medical malpractice involving medical doctors

Dentist assistants and dental hygienists have the lowest reported medical malpractice claims, numbering only forty-five claims in the last decade.

2019 was a record year in lawsuits over the last decade, with medical malpractice payouts totaling over $4 billion in damages to injured parties

The plaintiffs in a medical malpractice suit have the burden of proof to resolve their case successfully. Their attorney must prove the elements of the case, including:

The doctor's legal duty to treat and care for the patient existed

The doctor breached their duty of care by failing to adhere to professional standards

The doctor's breach of duty of the patient/doctor causal relationship injured the patient

The legal system redress the patient's injuries and damages

Most medical malpractice lawsuits suits never reached trial

Medical malpractice cases take time to resolve due to the extensive and lengthy discovery process

Both the plaintiff and defendant must share factual information during discovery that could include the request for documents, depositions, and interrogatories

The attorneys for plaintiffs (injured parties) and defendants (doctors/hospitals) will review all pertinent medical records, clinical notes, hospital building information, and other documents

Both sides must resolve their case following the Rules of Civil Procedure

The Physician's insurance company representative will likely attend all depositions

A medical malpractice case might take up to four years or longer to be heard at trial

The losing party in a medical malpractice suit can apply for a new trial after the court has assessed damages

The case can be reheard in the Court of Appeals or federal system (in some cases)

In some jurisdictions, the plaintiff or defendant could appeal the judgment amount – if the plaintiff wants more compensation or the defendant wants the jury's verdict award reduced

Personal injury attorneys working on behalf of the plaintiff are typically compensated through a contingency fee system

Some lawmakers believe that working on contingency fees promotes litigation

Typically, the defendant's (physician) attorney was hired by the insurance company that issued their medical malpractice policy

Doctors named in a medical malpractice suit faced emotional and professional stress that could lead to early burnout, depression, or an end of their career

An expert witness might be necessary to provide testimony, describing how the medical professional's mistake caused the plaintiff's injuries

Expert medical and financial experts hired by both the plaintiff and defendant could cost up to $1000 per hour or more

Cases heard at trial could be decided by the judge or the jury

Medical Malpractice Common Myths

Johns Hopkins Hospital statistics reveal that more than twice as many people die and hospitals every year than car accident victims in the United States. However, hospitals are not required to record or track medical errors, meaning that patient deaths could be significantly higher than the data shows.

Don't Be a Statistic. Contact an Attorney Today to Handle Your Medical Malpractice Case

Were you injured through medical malpractice, or did you lose a loved one through medical errors? Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) to schedule a free consultation.

Family members who lost a loved one can file a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking compensation, including hospitalization costs, medical bills, lost wages, future lost earning capacity, pain, suffering, and funeral/burial expenses.

All information you share with our law firm remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship. Our legal team currently follows CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Covid-19 (coronavirus social distancing guidelines to ensure our clients' safety.

Resources:

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld. Michonne Proulx
★★★★★
Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own. Ethan Armstrong
★★★★★
This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you. Daniel Kaim
★★★★★
Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan! Giulia
★★★★★
Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa