Most patients give medical professionals the benefit of the doubt — but is such trust always warranted? You might not be so sure after seeing these alarming statistics:
1. Medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States.
A report published in The BMJ suggests that only heart disease and cancer kill more people than medical negligence. Experts believe that medical errors kill over 250,000 people every year. Those who survive often suffer lasting damage and considerable emotional trauma.
2. Over half of physicians have been named in medical malpractice suits.
In all likelihood, your favorite doctor has been accused of malpractice. According to Medscape’s 2017 Malpractice Report, 48 percent of physicians have been involved in malpractice lawsuits in which other doctors were named, while 13 percent were involved in lawsuits in which they alone were named. Lawsuits are most likely in high-risk specialties, where, according to The New England Journal of Medicine, a shocking 99 percent of physicians face at least one lawsuit by age 65.
3. Most physicians have been named in multiple medical malpractice suits.
Among doctors sued for malpractice, the majority have faced legal action on at least two occasions. Primary care physicians and surgeons are the most likely to be named in multiple lawsuits.
4. Few physicians expect to be involved in lawsuits.
While most physicians will at some point be named in a lawsuit, few anticipate legal action — even if they’ve appeared in court in the past. In the aforementioned Medscape report, 29 percent of respondents claimed to be surprised by said lawsuits, while 58 percent referred to themselves as very surprised.
5. Most physicians think medical malpractice cases are unwarranted.
Don’t expect to go up against a medical professional who empathizes with your case or is willing to admit to making a mistake. In Medscape’s 2017 survey, a whopping 89 percent of physicians claimed that the lawsuits in which they’d been targeted were unwarranted.
6. Physicians are most commonly held accountable for misdiagnoses — or their failure to diagnose conditions in the first place.
Surgical errors may seem like the most likely cause of a medical malpractice lawsuit, but issues with diagnoses are even more likely to bring about legal action. This is particularly true among primary care physicians.
7. Doctors spend more time in court than in class.
With the average litigated claim lasting 25 months, physicians find themselves dedicating a significant portion of their careers to legal concerns. According to a RAND Corporation analysis of The Doctors Company database, the average physician spends over ten percent of his or her career dealing with litigation.
8. Most doctors obfuscate or fail to apologize for medical errors.
A concerning report published in the journal BMJ Quality and Safety reveals that over 70 percent of physicians would offer limited apologies (or none at all) in the wake of medical errors. Furthermore, many would be reluctant to disclose errors in the first place. In the Medscape study cited earlier, most respondents claimed that apologies would make little difference in lawsuit outcomes.
9. Burnout plays a huge role in medical errors.
A recent Stanford study links physician burnout to errors in the medical industry, with 55 percent of respondents admitting to suffering symptoms of burnout. Those dealing with burnout are far more likely to experience self-reported errors, even after adjusting for specialty and hours worked.
10. Americans trust medicine more than most institutions.
Trust in institutions has been falling for years, but most people still trust doctors more than they trust the media or politicians. In fact, 34 percent of Americans admit to holding great trust in medical leaders. Still, this remains alarming in light of past studies, which indicate that over three-quarters of Americans once trusted their doctors.
Trust is essential not only in medicine, but also in a successful attorney-client relationship. The team at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can provide trustworthy support throughout the duration of your medical malpractice case.