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Medical Malpractice Injury Facts

Medical Malpractice Facts

  1. Fewer than one-half of 1% of the nation’s doctors face any serious state sanctions each year. Only 2,696 serious disciplinary actions were taken by state medical boards took in 1999; nothing compared to the volume of injuries and deaths of patients caused by negligence of doctors. A recent study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences estimated that as many as 98,000 patients may be killed each year in hospitals alone as a result of medical errors.
  2. Just 5.1 percent of doctors account for 54.2 percent of the medical malpractice payouts, according to data from the National Practitioner Data Bank. Of the 35,000 doctors who have had two or more malpractice payouts since 1990, only 7.6 percent of them have been disciplined. And only 13 percent of doctors with five medical malpractice payouts have been disciplined.
  3. Harvard researchers found that 1% of a representative sample of patients treated in New York state hospitals in 1984 were injured, and one-quarter of those died, because of medical negligence. Nationwide, that would have translated into 234,000 injuries and 80,000 deaths in 1988 from negligence in American hospitals. Most of this involves physicians. There is no clear evidence that there has been significant improvement since then.
  4. A similar study conducted in California in 1974 found that 0.8% of hospital patients had either been injured by negligence in the hospital or had been hospitalized because of negligent care. Extrapolation of those findings would have yielded an estimate of 249,000 injuries and deaths from negligent medical practice in 1988.
  5. In 1976 the HEW Malpractice Commission estimated similarly that one-half of 1% of all patients entering hospitals are injured there due to medical negligence. That estimate would have indicated 156,000 injuries and deaths resulting from doctor medical malpractice in 1988.
  6. Expanding these estimates to include general medical practice outside of a hospital, the potential abuse by physicians is even greater. An in-depth interview with 53 family physicians revealed that 47% of the doctors recalled a case in which the patient died due to physician error. Only four of the total reported errors led to medical malpractice suits, and none of these errors resulted in an action by a peer review organization.
  7. Medical students at SUNY-Buffalo were asked to recall incidents during their clinical training that raised ethical concerns. More than 200 students responded (40% of total sample); the majority of instances they reported (60%) did not in the researchers’ opinions threaten the patient’s life, health or welfare. This, however, implies that potentially 40% did.
  8. Sexual abuse of, or sexual misconduct with, a patient, is also a serious issue. Six to ten percent of psychiatrists surveyed confessed to having engaged in sexual contact with a patient in a longitudinal study.
  9. Two studies surveyed medical residents to determine the incidence of substance use. Recent alcohol use was extremely high in both groups (87% within the last year for emergency medicine residents; 74% within the past 30 days for surgery residents). Additional findings proved extremely disturbing; although the emergency medicine program directors accurately determined the incidence of alcohol use amongst residents, they dramatically underestimated the percent who were actually impaired by the substance as indicated by diagnostic tests (1% estimate impaired vs. 13% diagnosed.
  10. Between 44,000 and 98,000 people die in hospitals annually each year due to preventable medical errors, the Institute of Medicine found. A survey of doctors and other adults released in December in the New England Journal of Medicine found that more than a third of the doctors said they or their family members had experienced medical errors, most leading to serious health consequences. The cost to society in terms of disability and health care costs, lost income, lost household production and the personal costs of care are estimated to be between $17 billion and $29 billion. In contrast, the medical liability system costs $6.7 billion annually, about what is spent on dog food each year.

How can I get medical malpractice help?

For more information, or to speak with one of our medical malpractice lawyers in Portland, Oregon, contact us or call our office at 866.THE.FIRM (866.843.3476) for a free consultation.