Updated July 30, 2020

How Often Does Medical Malpractice Occur?

Medical malpractice—when a patient suffers harm due to the negligence of a healthcare professional—covers a variety of claims, including surgical errors, hospital-acquired infections, or birth injuries. The stories are often frightening and sad, with patients requiring lifelong care or even dying after such treatment.

But how often does medical malpractice actually occur?

While the statistics vary widely, one thing is certain: Medical malpractice occurs much too often.

How Common Is Medical Malpractice?

By examining several studies concerning medical malpractice statistics, you can get an idea of how often medical malpractice occurs.

Fatalities Due to Medical Error

One of the first publications concerning patient safety was the Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report called To Err is Human. This study estimated that 44,000 to 98,000 deaths per year in the United States could be attributed to medical errors.

However, a more recent study was conducted in 2016. Researchers at Johns Hopkins examined data concerning medical malpractice from 2000 to 2008 and found the following:

  • Medical error is the cause of 10% of all deaths in the United States
  • Medical error is the third highest cause of death in the United States
  • More than 250,000 deaths per year in the United States are due to medical error

The Johns Hopkins and Institute of Medicine statistics focus only on fatalities—they do not even consider the larger amount of nonfatal injuries caused by medical errors.

Most Common Types of Allegations

A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association characterized paid medical malpractice claims by medical specialty. Between 1992 and 2014, the three most common types of allegations were as follows:

  • Diagnosis errors: 8% (35,349 of 111,066 claims)
  • Errors related to surgery: 9% (29,861 of 111,066 claims)
  • Medication or treatment errors: 5% (27,153 of 111,066 claims)

The researchers also found that, while the rate of all claims declined by 55.7%, the mean payment increased by 23.3% and the percentage of claims exceeding $1 million increased by 1.8%.

Why Is It Difficult to Track Medical Malpractice?

Many states lack a mandatory system or standard practices for reporting medical malpractice, so the precise number of deaths and injuries nationally is still unknown.

However, regardless of the precise total calculations, an unacceptably large number of patients suffer every year due to medical negligence and malpractice.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of medical malpractice, contact the Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you and your family get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.

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