If a doctor had lost multiple medical malpractice lawsuits, you would think that he or she would stop practicing or, at the very least, move to a new town to flee their reputation for harming patients. According to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine, that is not happening.
Doctors with more than four successful malpractice claims against them are, for the most part, continuing to see patients in their home community. In fact, the study’s lead researcher, David Studdert, a professor of medicine and law at Stanford University, found that more than 90 percent of doctors who have lost 5 or more malpractice claims against them, continue to see patients as if nothing happened. That is not a comforting thought for patients who need medical care.
Now, before you say that every doctor gets sued for malpractice so this doesn’t mean much, the study did not look at physicians who had malpractice claims filed against them; it only looked at physicians who lost malpractice claims. In those cases, either the malpractice was so egregious that the insurance company settled the case, or a court of law concluded, based on solid evidence, that the doctor did commit malpractice and injured his patient as a result. This is even more significant when you understand that only about 27% of medical malpractice plaintiffs win their court case.