HCPLive Network
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT

The Largest Medical Malpractice Payouts

Laura Joszt | Tuesday, August 06, 2013
More than half of all doctors will be sued for medical malpractice before they turn 50 years old, so it’s understandable that physicians view malpractice as a blade hanging over their heads.
 
Even worse, malpractice claims can take years (four on average) to be resolved. In 2012 there were more than 12,000 payouts, which cost a total of $3.5 billion. The good news, though, is that payouts have been on the decline since 2003. The payouts in 2012 were 3.4% lower than in 2011. Of course, not all cases are created equal, so we’ve compiled a list of the largest medical malpractice payouts from just the last five years.
 

More than half of the top 10 lawsuits involve injury to a baby during delivery. Perhaps not so surprising considering Ob/Gyns are the third most sued doctors, according to a recent Medscape survey.
 
The world of law can be a difficult one to rank. A $19 million verdict can get stuck in appeals and eventually toppled (as one case was), often years after the initial award. Cases were also not included if insufficient information was found during research.
 
Another issue with verdicts is that despite what the jury might award, the plaintiffs might not get to see all that money. For instance, despite one award topping $10 million, the plaintiffs could only receive $7.5 million because of a state cap.
 
Many states limit the non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases; for instance, California, Colorado and Kansas cap at $250,000, while Maryland caps at $785,000. But there are also 12 states that forbid caps on medical malpractice awards: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Missouri, Ohio (for wrongful death cases), Pennsylvania, Washington and Wyoming.
 
As scary as the following verdicts are, it’s important to keep in mind that these are far from the ordinary. The Medscape survey revealed that the plaintiff’s monetary award was over $2 million is just 2% of cases.

Here are the 10 largest medical malpractice payouts in the last five years.
 


RELATED ARTICLES
The end of the year has a number of significant financial implications that we should not lose sight of in our merriment. And being aware of some of them will allow us to feel better and maybe save some money, even if we are sometimes profligate in our holiday shopping.
While planning to reduce your taxable income is important, it is equally imperative that you take advantage of the multitude of federal and state tax credits that are available.
Should employed physicians unionize? The question arises as more and more physicians become employees of large organizations.
RECENT CLINICAL ARTICLES
Around 10% of elders experience some form of elder abuse (physical, sexual or emotional abuse; neglect, exploitation, or abandonment), and elders who are abused appear to have a high level of comorbidity. Evidence suggests that patients who have experienced elder abuse are at higher risk of cardiovascular-related mortality.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) published a 2013 guideline addressing the number of embryos to transfer. Its guideline relied on empiric data to individualize patient care while minimizing the risk of high-order multiple births.
Variations of an enzyme could help health care professionals identify patients more likely to be diagnosed with a rare rheumatologic condition.