A Black family receives terrible news due to medical malpractice in a hospital waiting room.

Medical Malpractice Statistics

Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire LLP
May 20, 2024
Understanding the landscape of medical malpractice not only empowers victims to seek legal representation but also promotes transparency and accountability within the healthcare sector.

Medical malpractice is an issue that intersects the realms of healthcare and law, impacting patients, healthcare providers, and the legal system alike. Given that everyone visits a doctor at least once, it’s important to be aware of the dangers associated with medical malpractice. 

In this article, we will explore the prevalence of medical malpractice, shedding light on its frequency, implications, and the steps individuals can take if they have been affected. 

Join us as we unravel the realities of medical malpractice statistics and equip ourselves with the knowledge to advocate for accountability and fair treatment for all in the healthcare industry. If you or a loved one has experienced potential medical malpractice, don't hesitate to reach out to us for legal guidance and support.

Contact Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire at (619) 236-9363 to schedule a free, fully confidential consultation. We’re here to discuss your potential medical malpractice case and the first steps toward securing justice.

How Common Is Medical Malpractice? 

Medical malpractice takes place when a medical professional fails to provide appropriate treatment to a patient, resulting in serious injury or even death. Various forms of medical malpractice exist since the healthcare industry is so expansive with several specialized areas. 

The grim truth is that medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, surpassed only by cancer and heart disease. That said, it’s challenging to accurately quantify medical malpractice cases due to the absence of a consistent reporting system among organizations.   

Let’s explore a few general medical malpractice statistics:

  1. Care providers make avoidable errors in 3% to 15% of all medical interventions.
  2. A 2023 study published in the British Medical Journal estimated that 795,000 Americans become permanently disabled or die across care settings due to misdiagnosis of dangerous diseases.
  3. One in three healthcare providers is sued for medical malpractice during their career.
  4. Patients can pursue compensation through medical malpractice lawsuits when they suffer harm due to substandard treatment. 

Medical malpractice technically occurs in a small percentage of overall healthcare encounters in the U.S. However, because healthcare is a massive industry with millions of interactions daily, even a small percentage can significantly impact patient safety and well-being.

Who Can Be Sued in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Medical malpractice claims can target a range of healthcare professionals because several sectors involve patient care and treatment. Patients may be eligible to sue the following types of providers for medical malpractice: 

  • Physicians
  • Physician assistants
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Nurses
  • Medical technicians 
  • Dentists
  • Pharmacists 

Do Some Specialties Face Higher Claims of Medical Malpractice? 

Certain medical specialties may see a higher incidence of malpractice claims than others. For instance, high-risk fields have more malpractice claims compared to lower-risk areas like general practice. Some fields that are more susceptible to allegations of medical malpractice include the following: 

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology 
  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine 

How Many People Die From Medical Malpractice Each Year? 

Negligence by care providers accounts for 9.5% of all deaths each year, meaning medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Those numbers make up approximately 251,000 fatalities annually. Each one is a life that could have been saved, leaving a family devastated.  

If you’ve lost a loved one due to medical, surgical, or pharmaceutical malpractice, you may be able to file a wrongful death suit. These lawsuits allow surviving family members to seek compensation for lost income, as well as the emotional loss of a spouse, parent, or child.

How Many Malpractice Suits Per Year in the United States?

Despite the number of fatalities linked to medical malpractice reaching over 200,000, medical malpractice lawsuits filed in the U.S. remain relatively low. Here are some key statistics related to medical malpractice claims:

Frequency of Lawsuits

  • An average of 20,000 malpractice lawsuits are filed every year in the U.S.
  • The National Practitioner Data Bank reported 3,046 medical malpractice payments for wrongful death claims in 2022. 

Common Types of Claims

  • Diagnostic Errors: Misdiagnosis is one of the most common types of malpractice. Conditions like cancer, infections, and vascular events are often misdiagnosed.
  • Medication Errors: Prescription errors are also prevalent, with insulin and morphine being the two most error-prone medications. A physician or pharmacist may administer an incorrect medication to a patient. 
  • Surgical Errors: When a surgeon fails to follow the accepted standard of care during surgery, resulting in injury or death. Other examples of surgical errors include operating on the wrong part of the body or even performing surgery on the wrong patient. 
  • Failure to Treat: If a doctor fails to treat a patient due to misdiagnosis, failure to order correct tests, or misinterpretation of test results, this could result in a medical malpractice lawsuit. 

Settlements and Court Cases

  • Approximately 96.9% of successful medical malpractice claims are settled out of court.
  • Physicians with one paid claim are almost four times more likely to have one or more paid claims in the next five years than physicians with no prior paid claims. 

Remember that these statistics provide an overview. The actual numbers may vary yearly and by state. 

When faced with medical malpractice, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced attorney who can lead you through the legal process and advocate for your rights.

Consider enlisting the help of the accomplished attorneys at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire if you believe you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice. We can assess your case, provide legal advice, and help you pursue justice. Set up your free consultation online or call (619) 236-9363 for help directly.

How Often Does Medical Malpractice Occur Based on Race and Gender?

Unfortunately, racial and gender disparities exist in healthcare, which can lead to misdiagnoses and other harmful outcomes. Let’s explore some relevant information:

Racial Disparities in Healthcare

  • Black Americans often face structural and personal racism in healthcare. They are more likely to suffer from various ailments, especially circulatory system-related conditions.
  • Access to treatment is reduced for Black Americans, leading to lower-quality care even when available.

Gender Inequality in Healthcare

  • Women and racial and ethnic minorities are 20% to 30% more likely than white men to experience a misdiagnosis.
  • Women over the age of 40 are most likely to make medical malpractice claims.

In summary, addressing racial and gender biases in healthcare is important to ensuring equitable treatment and reducing medical malpractice. It’s essential to continue raising awareness and advocating for better practices to improve patient outcomes. 

Contact Proven Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Medical malpractice is a grave concern that affects patients across all demographics. Whether due to misdiagnoses, surgical errors, or inadequate care, victims of medical malpractice deserve justice. 

Our attorneys at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire have secured significant compensation for medical malpractice clients, including $2.6 million after a doctor failed to perform a timely cesarean section and $1.2 million for a woman who showed clear symptoms of a stroke but was misdiagnosed as having a migraine. 

If you suspect medical malpractice, consult with our experienced lawyers right away. Remember that time limits apply to filing claims, so it’s critical that you don’t delay in seeking legal advice.

We are fully prepared to evaluate your case, gather evidence on your behalf, and represent your interests during negotiations or in court.

Reach out to our team at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire online or by calling (619) 236-9363 for a free consultation. Understand your legal rights and options. Let us fight for the compensation you deserve.