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Study: Medical malpractice claims on the decline

Another dubious health industry claim has been shot down by research. This time, researchers looked at data spanning the period 1992 to 2014 and determined that paid medical malpractice claims are on the decline in the United States, rather than on the rise as hospitals, doctors and some politicians might want you to believe.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital looked at medical malpractice trends in that nearly 20-year period. They examined cases using the National Practitioner Data Bank, a centralized database created by Congress back in the mid 1980s.

Perhaps most important is that the decline in paid medical malpractice claims is not a slight decrease. The overall rate of claims paid on behalf of doctors plummeted 55 percent from '92 to 2014. For pediatricians, the news is even better: the rate of claims paid on behalf of children's doctors dropped 75 percent.

Cardiologists had the smallest drop in number of paid claims, down just 13.5 percent.

"We've found that there was an overall drop in the amount of paid claims across all specialties, but that the magnitude of the decline was markedly different by specialty," a hospitalist at Brigham and Women's Hospital said in a statement.

Past research has shown that doctors' perceptions of their risks of being sued for malpractice affects "their clinical decision-making," a researcher said. Perhaps when physicians see the new study they will adjust that decision-making process and order fewer superfluous tests for patients.

The new research shows that misdiagnosis is the most common reason for medical malpractice claims (31 percent), followed by surgical errors (27 percent) and medical errors (24 percent).

You can discuss your case with an experienced Huntington attorney at the West Virginia law firm of Cyrus, Adkins & Walker, Attorneys at Law.

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