on January 27th, 2016 No Comments
A small number of physicians account for a disproportionately large number of malpractice claims in the United States, Stanford medical and law researchers found after examining 10 years of medical data.
The ability to identify these claim-prone physicians early would be invaluable, the researchers write in a paper published today in The New England Journal of Medicine.
David Studdert, ScD, professor of law and of medicine, and Michelle Mello, JD, PhD, professor of law and of health research and policy — who are also core faculty members of Stanford Health Policy — conducted the study in collaboration with researchers from the University of Melbourne, Australia.
The team found that just 1 percent of practicing physicians accounted for 32 percent of paid malpractice claims over a decade. The study also found that claim-prone physicians had a number of distinctive characteristics. Studdert, lead author of the study, explains:
The degree to which the claims were concentrated among a small group of physicians was really striking. But the fact that these frequent flyers looked quite different from their colleagues — in terms of specialty, gender, age, and several other characteristics — was the most exciting finding. It suggests that it may be possible to identify problem physicians before they accumulate troubling track records, and then do something to stop that happening.
Male physicians had a 35 percent higher risk of recurring claims than female physicians, and the risk of recurrence among physicians younger than 35 years old was about one-third the risk among their older colleagues, the study found.