med-malpractice-6388033Last week I discussed a new study published by the journal BMJ Quality and Safety that analyzed malpractice claims since 1986 and found errors in diagnosis to be the worst offender for malpractice claims. 

This week, my discussion centers on a similar analysis performed by Diedrich Healthcare.  Analyzing data gathered by the National Practitioner Data Bank, Diedrich Healthcare found that out of the $3.6 billion paid out for malpractice lawsuits in 2012, five states were responsible for 48% of all claims. Rest assured, Nebraska did not crack the top five.  The top five problem states were New York — $763,088,250; Pennsylvania — $316,167,500; California — $222,926,200; New Jersey — $206,668,250; and Florida — $203,671,100. 

Notably, women received more payouts than men (57% vs. 43%) and there was not a significant difference in the proportion of payouts to claims arising in the inpatient arena versus outpatient (45% vs. 41%).   Regarding injury type – 31% of payouts were awarded in cases that involved a patient’s death, 19% were in cases that involved significant permanent injury, and 18% were for cases that involved major permanent injury. 

Finally, even though there was an overall increase in the number of payouts awarded from 1998 and 2001, we can be somewhat comforted by Diedrich’s finding that the monetary value of a malpractice award has been on a steady decline since 2003.  2012 payouts were 3.4% lower than in 2011, which, in a cup half-full-view-of-the-world, is definitely good news for the healthcare industry.