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Medical Malpractice Claims In The U.S. Are On The Decline, Says Study

We’ll admit it. For the most part, the Allegiant Experts Blog has kept a pretty strong focus on the many unfortunate incidents of medical malpractice and health care fraud that regularly take place throughout the United States. While the news we report on reflects the truth about a major problem in our nation, it can also be disheartening to receive. Nevertheless, it remains our duty to not allow for these issues to go unnoticed.

With that said, we do agree that a little good news would be a welcome change. And we’re very thankful to say that we have some this week! Last week, Amy Wallace of United Press International reported that a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that medical malpractice claims in the United States are on the decline. She notes that researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have noticed this downward trend taking place over the past two decades.

Using the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a centralized database of paid malpractice claims created in 1986 by Congress, the research found that between 1992 and 2014, the overall rate of claims paid on behalf of physicians dropped by 55.7 percent. Pediatricians, the study found, experienced the largest decline of claims paid at 75.8 percent. The smallest decline was for cardiologists at 13.5 percent.

The study did not find an increase in claims in any particular medical field. In a press release, BWH hospitalist, Dr. Adam Schaffer noted that there was “an overall drop in the amount of paid claims across all specialties, but that the magnitude of the decline was markedly different by specialty.” BWH’s chief quality officer, Dr. Allen Kachalia added his thoughts about why there has been a noticeable decrease in medical malpractice claims over the past two decades.

He suggests that doctors are well aware of the ramifications that can ensue when they are not taking every measure to ensure the safety, well-being and return to better health of their patients. “Previous research has shown that physicians’ perceptions of their risk of liability can influence their clinical decision making, and a better understanding of the causes of variation among specialties in paid malpractice claims may both improve patient safety and reduce liability risk,” Dr. Kachalia is quoted as saying.

Wallace also highlights the researchers’ findings about the most common types of malpractice allegations. Misdiagnosis takes the cake with 31.8 percent of all claims. Errors related to surgery is the second most prevalent form of malpractice claims at 26.9 percent and mistakes related to treatment rounds out the top three at 24.5 percent of all allegations. “The analysis showed 32 percent of paid malpractice claims involved patient death,” Wallace adds.

At Allegiant Experts, we’re quite pleased to learn of the results of this study. Admittedly, in our line of work, it can be hard to tell that medical malpractice claims have been declining over the years. Then again, we do take solace in the fact that the work we do may just be helping for such incidents to lessen in frequency. If you’re an attorney trying a case against an alleged perpetrator of medical misconduct, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Our team of clinical experts can assist you in determining if the right care was provided, at the right time and at the right place. For more information about our expertise and how we may be able to help your case, call us at 407-217-5831 or email us at

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