Report: Specialists more likely to be sued than primary care physicians

According to the 2019 Medscape Malpractice Report, 59% of surveyed physicians have been sued at some point in their careers. Respondents included more than 4,300 physicians across 29 specialties. Nearly 70% of respondents were men.

Specialists were more likely to report being sued than primary care physicians, with 62% and 53% respectively experiencing a lawsuit.

General surgeons were the specialists most likely to be sued. Other specialties likely to be sued included the following:

  • Urology

  • Otolaryngology

  • OB/GYN & Women’s Health

  • Specialized surgery

  • Radiology

  • Emergency medicine

  • Cardiology

One-third of physicians who had been sued indicated that “failure to diagnose/delayed diagnosis” was the reason for the suit. Other top reasons for suits included “complications from treatment/surgery” (29%) and “poor outcome/disease progression” (26%).

Fifty-two percent of physicians who had been sued said they were “very surprised” by the lawsuit, but only 14% said they were “not at all surprised,” indicating that physicians frequently don’t foresee lawsuits. Additionally, only 6% of sued physicians stated that the lawsuits brought against them were warranted; however, 58% of sued physicians believed the outcomes of their cases were ultimately fair.

Source: Medscape