What Doctors Are Most Often Named in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

The basis of the doctor-patient relationship is the understanding that the health care provider will follow acceptable medical standards to care for their patient. When a doctor fails to provide reasonable care they are vulnerable to a medical malpractice claim. Every type of doctor, from chiropractors to dermatologists to neurosurgeons, can face an allegation of medical malpractice; however, some specialties carry much greater malpractice risk than others. An injured patient in a medical malpractice suit may be awarded compensatory or punitive damages through legal action and it is imperative to have a medical malpractice lawyer who understands medical malpractice laws.  

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when the medical care provided by a physician (or another medical provider) falls below the industry standard. Malpractice can be active, such as a medical never event like operating on the wrong limb, or passive, like a missed diagnosis.

Malpractice can cause serious, catastrophic injuries which may also result in loss of income. Medical errors are currently the third leading cause of death in the U.S., and the consequences of malpractice can be life-changing. 

Some examples of medical malpractice include: 

  • Pharmaceutical errors, like prescribing the wrong medication or filling a prescription incorrectly
  • Birth injuries to mother or child
  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
  • Infections that begin in the hospital
  • Surgical errors
  • Emergency room treatment errors

If a medical error falls below the industry standard of care, the health care professional and their employer may face a medical negligence lawsuit. 

Which Doctors Face the Most Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?

Certain specialties, like anesthesiology, are known for their high malpractice insurance rates, but according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the specialty with the highest percentage of physicians facing a medical malpractice lawsuit each year was neurosurgery, with almost one in five neurosurgeons dealing with malpractice allegations at any point in time. 

Over the course of the study, 7.4 percent of physicians faced a malpractice claim, while only 1.6 percent had a claim resulting in a settlement or court judgment. Nearly four in every five claims did not result in money damages. Physicians facing the highest risk of malpractice claims include:

  • Neurosurgery (19.1 percent)
  • Thoracic-cardiovascular surgery (18.9 percent)
  • General surgery (15.3 percent)
  • Orthopedic surgery (14.5 percent)
  • Plastic surgery (13 percent)
  • Gastroenterology (12 percent)

Meanwhile, those specialties with the lowest risk of medical malpractice include: 

  • Dermatology (5.4 percent)
  • Family medicine (5.2 percent)
  • Pediatrics (3.1 percent)
  • Psychiatry (2.6 percent)

For malpractice claims that resulted in monetary damages, the average payment was just under $275,000. However, these payments vary by specialty—the mean compensation for dermatology malpractice is only $118,000, while the mean compensation for pediatric malpractice is almost $521,000. 

This study also revealed the difference in medical malpractice lawsuit frequency between physicians in low-risk versus high-risk specialties. By age 65, those in low-risk specialties had only a 75 percent chance of facing a malpractice case at some point over their career, compared with 99 percent of those in higher-risk specialties like surgery and gastroenterology. 

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice or is experiencing other health issues as a result of a medical mistake, you may be entitled to compensation. At The Ferraro Law Firm, we are focused on each client’s case and will use all our resources to ensure you have the most robust representation possible with a Medical Malpractice Attorney. To schedule your free consultation, call 888-554-2030 or just fill out our free case consultation form and a member of our team will soon be in touch. 

  • What are the components of malpractice?
  • What types of medical malpractice are the most common?
  • How is malpractice defined?
  • What is the definition of medical negligence?