Standing Up For You

Get the facts about medical malpractice

When negligent actions by a health care provider result in poor outcomes or complications, he or she could be responsible for legal damages. Understanding the different types of medical malpractice and how often they occur can help you be aware of issues that may affect you or your family members.

David Belk, MD, reported these statistics and trends from the National Practitioner Data Bank in his book, The True Cost of Healthcare.

Annual claims in Kentucky

Malpractice claims in Kentucky from 2012 to 2016 have declined steadily. According to the most recent data, the state’s annual claims per capital are about 31.2 for every 1 million residents, which is exactly in line with the national average.

Average cost of health care claims

Although the average annual cost of malpractice claims has been declining both in the state and nationwide, the decrease represents mostly lower-cost claims. Settlements or lawsuits worth less than half a million dollars have gone down by 55% between 2001 and 2017. In contrast, claims worth more than $500,000 have remained relatively level over the same period.

Common types of malpractice

According to a 2018 report published in Modern Healthcare covering a review of nearly 11,000 malpractice claims from 2013 to 2017, the most common cases included:

  • Diagnostic errors (33%)
  • Errors during surgical procedures (24%)
  • Errors involving medical management (14%)

Of the diagnostic errors reported, more than 50% involved poor clinical decision-making. A lack of proper evaluation, such as failure to obtain a family medical history from the patient, occurred in 33% of these cases. Lab testing errors represented 52% of diagnostic errors.

When you are not sure if you or a loved one are receiving appropriate medical care, trust your instincts. Ask another doctor for a second opinion any time you feel a lack of confidence in your health care provider. You only have one year to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, so act quickly if you think a provider’s errors resulted in health problems.