Medical negligence data from the US

The New England Journal of Medicine conducted research in 2006 into the nature of medical negligence claims in the US. 1450 medical negligence claimants were chosen at random for the study of which 60% were female (mostly in their late 30’s), 20% were custodians of newly born babies and 12% were over 65 years old.

The healthcare providers most commonly claimed against were obstetrician gynaecologists who formed the basis of 276 claims. General surgeons were defendants in the second most cases being the subject of 246 claims, closely followed by GPs with 232.

The Journal of the American Medical Association analysed all medical negligence compensation claims from 2005 to 2009 finding that compensation awards for inpatient claims averaged $363,000 whereas the average payout for outpatient claims is 20% lower.

According to the NEJM study, the average compensation payout in a medical negligence case is $485,000, however those plaintiffs awarded compensation by juries tended to receive double the payout that those who settled out of court received ($800,000 and $462,000 respectively).

Whilst plaintiffs stand to win big compensation payouts at court, the chances of the jury ruling in their favour are slim. 80% of plaintiffs lost their case at trial whereas 60% of plaintiffs received out of court settlements.

The most common cause of an impatient medical negligence claim was surgical error, accounting for a third of all such claims. For outpatients, errors in diagnosis were most commonly cited, accounting for half of all claims.

According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, only 7% of medical negligence cases go to trial, with the rest being resolved outside court.

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