Ob/Gyns are still at high risk of being sued

October 1, 2010

More than half of all obstetricians and gynecologists have been sued for medical malpractice before reaching the age of 40, according to an AMA survey.

More than half of all obstetricians and gynecologists have been sued for medical malpractice before reaching the age of 40, according to a survey by the American Medical Association of more than 5,800 physicians in 42 different specialties. The survey, conducted in 2007 and 2008, found that among physicians, ob/gyns and general surgeons were most likely to be sued, incurring 5 times more claims against them than pediatricians and psychiatrists, who had the lowest incidence. Overall, more than 42% of physicians have been sued for medical malpractice at some point in their careers, and more than 20% have been sued at least twice. Almost 61% of physicians aged 55 years or older have been sued.

On the positive side, about two-thirds of claims are dropped or dismissed, and physicians prevail 90% of the time in cases that go to trial. Specifically, according to data compiled by the Physician Insurers Association of America, 65% of claims were dropped, dismissed, or withdrawn; 25.7% were settled; 4.5% were decided by alternative dispute mechanisms; and only 5% were resolved at trial.

Being sued is costly: For settled claims, median indemnity payments were $200,000, and for claims resolved in court, $375,000. Average defense costs per claim ranged from $22,163 among claims that are dropped or dismissed to a high of more than $100,000 for those that go to trial.