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Which Doctors Are Sued the Most and Why?

DoctorsClaims of medical malpractice are an accepted risk of going into business as a practitioner. However, there are some specialties that do tend to have claims brought against them more often than others, for a variety of reasons. It can be important to understand why this occurs, and what sort of claims are brought, so you can be certain that if you are harmed by a medical mistake, you bring the appropriate action against the appropriate person.

Statistics and Causes of Malpractice

Data from the last decade or so show that approximately 61 percent of doctors have been sued by the last third of their career, either as the only defendant or as one of many. This notably affects many doctors’ thinking and choices in terms of diagnosis, which can, in turn, make them overconfident or less inclined to attempt certain treatment methods. This reticence can play a role in several common causes of medical malpractice, including failure to diagnose, which makes up the highest percentage of all medical malpractice claims, according to the American Medical Association.

Other common causes will depend on whether a patient seeking care is inpatient or outpatient. Surgical errors are the number one cause for inpatient injuries, which will often lead to malpractice claims, especially if the injury is egregious. Another common reason given for bringing a malpractice suit is experiencing an error related to pregnancy or prenatal care - as one might imagine, people are more likely to bring suit if their children are affected.

Those Sued Most Often

The same data from 2015 also identified general surgeons and OB-GYNs as the specialties most likely to be sued. This makes sense, for two reasons. The first is that both of these disciplines sustain a high incidence of failure to diagnose and abnormal injury, which are the two most common reasons that patients bring suit. Failure to diagnose in particular is common in the field of obstetrics/gynecology, with conditions such as endometriosis only just beginning to be understood, and thus often missed by practitioners.

Another possible reason for the preponderance of malpractice claims in these areas is that surgery and obstetrics/gynecology are two disciplines within which it is somewhat more difficult to practice what most medical practitioners call "defensive medicine." Professionals define defensive medicine as “the ordering of treatment or tests” designed more to safeguard a medical professional from liability than for actual diagnosis - a practice some find distasteful, but it does save time and money by helping to minimize frivolous lawsuits so that those truly injured may seek compensation. In regard to surgery, especially, it can be difficult to take extra steps so as to lower one’s risk of frivolous lawsuits.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Assistance

It is not always easy to know if the medical mistake you observed is truly actionable as medical malpractice. If you need guidance, consulting a medical malpractice attorney can be a good idea. The skilled San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. can help answer your questions and guide you toward a favorable outcome for you and your family. Contact us today at (408) 289-1417 to set up an appointment. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Santa Clara, San Benito, San Mateo, Monterey and Alameda.

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Client Reviews
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My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.