One-Third of U.S. Physicians Report Ever Being Sued

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

Length of time in practice, specialty, and gender impact likelihood of being sued

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 15, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Nearly one-third of U.S. physicians (31.2 percent) in 2022 reported they had previously been sued, according to new research released by the American Medical Association.

The Benchmark Survey includes a nationally representative sample of 3,500 physicians who provide at least 20 hours of patient care per week, have completed their residency, are not employed by the federal government, and practice in one of the 50 U.S. states or the District of Columbia.

The survey showed nearly half (46.8 percent) of physicians aged 54 years or older had been sued, versus 9.5 percent of physicians younger than 40 years. The widest variation in claim frequency was attributed to medical specialty, with surgical specialties at highest risk and internal medicine subspecialties at lowest risk (e.g., 62 percent of ob-gyns and 59.3 percent of general surgeons versus 7 percent of allergists/immunologists and 8 percent of hematologists/oncologists). Furthermore, women physicians face lower liability risk than men (23.8 percent of women versus 36.8 percent of men).

“Even the most highly qualified and competent physicians in the U.S. may face a medical liability claim in their careers; however, getting sued is not indicative of medical errors,” Jack Resneck Jr., M.D., president of the American Medical Association, said in a statement. “When physicians are sued, two-thirds of civil liability claims are dropped, dismissed, or withdrawn without a finding of fault.”

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