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Malpractice Cases Gobble 11% of Doctors' Time

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, January 17, 2013

Suggestions for reducing malpractice litigation include proposals for special malpractice courts and a push for physicians to make apologies to derail litigation in the first place, if they are possibly liable, Seabury says.

"If the psychic costs of fear and uncertainty are a sizeable portion of the costs of malpractice to physicians, then the portion of physicians' time spent with an outstanding claim helps explain physicians' negative attitude toward the system, beyond the financial costs," the researchers write.

"The psychic burden that physicians in these circumstances bear also suggests that making the system resolve cases faster without sacrificing compensation to patients injured by the negligent care could have important benefits to physicians and patients."

While neurosurgeons spend the most time with open malpractice cases, those involving psychiatrists are over the quickest. Psychiatrists spend the least amount of time with open malpractice claims—a total of nearly 16 months or just over 3% of their careers. No explanation was offered.

Maybe politicians should spend more time on the couch to figure out the malpractice mess, and how they feel about it.


Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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2 comments on "Malpractice Cases Gobble 11% of Doctors' Time"


Kathy Wire (1/18/2013 at 1:44 PM)
This article points out one of the primary justifications for the early investigation and resolution of cases. Unfortunately, physicians are often one of the biggest obstacles to that process. If the matter has been appropriately investigated and reviewed, the parties have had open discussion(s) and reasonable offers have been made, one of two things will happen. The case will settle within months OR it will go forward, but then they tend to move faster. The issues have already been laid out and there are few surprises, also reducing the stress level.

Liz (1/17/2013 at 1:25 PM)
I would be curious to know, of that 11%, how much actual time the physician spent in helping resolve the case. Surely most of the time is just the time spent with the spectre hanging over the head.