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AMA: Liability Claims Filed Nearly One Per Physician

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 4, 2010

A report from the American Medical Association finds an average of 95 medical liability claims filed for every 100 physicians.

The report, released Tuesday, prompted renewed calls from the AMA for comprehensive national and state-level tort reforms.

“Even though the vast majority of claims are dropped or decided in favor of physicians, the understandable fear of meritless lawsuits can influence what specialty of medicine physicians practice, where they practice and when they retire,” says AMA Immediate Past-President J. James Rohack, MD. “This litigious climate hurts patients’ access to physician care at a time when the nation is working to reduce unnecessary healthcare costs.”

The report—which includes data from the AMA’s 2007-2008 Physician Practice Information survey of patient-care physicians and other sources—has data on medical liability claims’ impact by age, gender, and practice arrangement for physicians.
The report shows:

  • Nearly 61% of physicians age 55 and over have been sued.
  • There is wide variation in the impact of liability claims between specialties. The number of claims per 100 physicians was more than five times greater for general surgeons and OB/GYNS than it was for pediatricians and psychiatrists.
  • Before they reach age 40, more than 50% of OB/GYN have been sued. 
  • 90% of general surgeons age 55 and over have been sued.

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