We have heard it from members of the U.S. Congress, state legislatures, the media and from the hospital industry and doctor lobby: the rise in medical malpractice claims is driving the cost of health care up and up. The reality, though, is something else entirely, as a new study demonstrates.
Researchers analyzed data from 1992 to 2014 and determined that paid medical malpractice claims for doctors have dropped by more than 50 percent over the past two decades.
Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers analyzed information in the National Practitioner Data Bank, a database of paid malpractice claims since 1986, when the NPDB was created by Congress. The overall rate of decline, researchers said, is 55.7 percent. But some specialties did even better than that.
Pediatricians have seen a decline in paid medical malpractice claims in the studied period of 75.8 percent. The smallest decline was felt by cardiologists, who saw a drop of 13.5 percent.
The study showed that the most common cause of malpractice claims is misdiagnosis (responsible for 31.8 percent of all claims). Surgical errors followed with 26.9 percent; and medical errors were third at 24.5 percent.
Nearly a third of all the medical malpractice claims involved the death of the patient, researchers said.
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