Top Trends in Medical Malpractice 2015

Jacky Gale | December 16th, 2015

medical-malpracticeMedscape recently conducted a survey of almost 4,000 primary care physicians and medical specialists to evaluate recent trends in medical malpractice litigation. The survey sought to determine the percentage of doctors who were named as defendants, the reasons for the lawsuits, and how medical malpractice litigation affected the doctors’ patient care decisions going forward.

Of the nearly 4,000 study participants, 59 percent of respondents reported being named in at least one medical negligence lawsuit. Of those, just 12 percent of respondents were the only party named in the lawsuit, while 47 percent were named along with other defendants.

Medical malpractice statistics

Although this informal survey by Medscape represents only a small fraction of healthcare practitioners in the U.S., the statistics are comparable to larger surveys. In 2010, a survey by the American Medical Association (AMA) revealed that 61 percent of physicians had been named as defendants in at least one lawsuit by the latter part of their careers.

The Medscape survey also took a look at which healthcare specialties were more likely to be affected by medical malpractice lawsuits. Obstetrician/gynecologists (Ob/Gyns) and surgeons were the most likely groups to be sued. Of the study respondents, 85 percent of women’s health specialists, 83 percent of women’s health surgeons, 79 percent of orthopedic specialists, and 72 percent of radiologists had been sued. The next highest category was anesthesiology.

Trends in allegations

The Medscape survey also examined the types of medical malpractice claims that affected their study respondents. Failure to diagnose a health condition and the claim that the patient suffered an abnormal injury were by far the most common allegations, ranking at 31 percent each. Other allegations included failure to treat a health condition (12 percent), failure to properly document patient instruction and education (four percent), committing errors in medication administration (four percent), failure to follow safety protocols (three percent), and lastly, failure to obtain or improperly obtaining informed consent of the patient (three percent).

About the defendants

Interestingly, the Medscape survey also included information about differences in gender. When medical malpractice lawsuits named only one plaintiff, claimants were male in 14 percent of the cases, compared to eight percent for women. When lawsuits named multiple defendants, 50 percent of them were men compared to 41 percent of women. Medscape did not provide information regarding whether their study respondents included an equal balance of both genders.

The survey revealed that the thought of medical malpractice litigation is never far from the minds of most healthcare practitioners. Eighteen percent of the study respondents who had been sued revealed that they thought about litigation with each medical appointment, compared to 14 percent of respondents who had not yet been sued.

Advocates for medical malpractice victims

With over 45 years of litigation experience, the New York medical malpractice lawyers of The Sanders Firm are well qualified to provide effective legal advocacy for families affected by surgical errors and doctor negligence.

You can claim your complimentary, no-obligation case review today by calling our law firm at 1.800.FAIR.PLAY.


  1. Medscape, Medscape Malpractice Report 2015: Why Most Doctors Get Sued, http://www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/public/malpractice-report-2015#page=3

  2. Forbes.com, 10 Things You Want To Know About Medical Malpractice, http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/05/16/10-things-you-want-to-know-about-medical-malpractice/