Members of Stanford University School of Medicine and Stanford Law School
have recently released the results of a study that used 10-years’
worth of statistics to complete. What were they trying to find that required
a decade of numbers, facts, and evidence? The purpose was to analyze paid
medical malpractice claims to determine if certain behaviors, or even just certain medical
practitioners, were more prone to harming patients than others. The results
can be considered telling, if not alarming.
The data used for the study was collected from the National Practitioner
Data Bank, and more than 66,000 paid claims were reviewed. Nearly 55,000
physicians were included in the information, which was timestamped from
2005 to 2014. At a cursory glance, it is already clear that a great deal
of physicians were sued for and lost a medical malpractice claim more
than once in 10 years.
To get into the specifics, about 1% of
all the physicians included in the study accounted for roughly 1/3 of
all the paid claims. This number is staggering when extrapolated worldwide.
Imagine this ratio in other terms: what if 1% of the criminal population
could be linked to 33% of all crimes? Clearly something would have to
be done to correct their behaviors.
The Dangers of Repeat Medical Malpractice Offenders
When the numbers were examined even further, an upsetting pattern began
to emerge. 84% of all physicians had lost a suit once during the study
timeframe, 16% were responsible for at least two claims, and 4% had paid
three or more claims, which accounted for roughly 12% of all claims. The
data suggests that the more previous claims there are against a doctor,
the more likely that doctor will have a claim in the future.
But what does that mean? More or less, penalties exacted against negligent
doctors who hurt patients through medical malpractice are not effective
enough. Not only do they not seem to learn from their mistakes but they
are also allowed to continue their practice, despite the injuries they
have caused to patients. It should also be noted the study had only focused on
paid claims. There could be any number of unpaid and unreported medical malpractice
incidents that could have further exposed the dangers of negligence in
the hospital, clinic, or pharmacy.
[The New England Journal of Medicine has a summary of the study to be found
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