Surgery takes biggest share of medical malpractice claims — 7 insights

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Surgery and procedure-related allegations make up the biggest share of medical malpractice claims, according to an October report by Coverys, a provider of medical professional liability insurance.

Data in the report was derived from 11,907 events pertaining to 20,211 closed claims at Coverys from 2010-19.

What you should know:

1. Together, allegations related to surgery, procedure or diagnosis accounted for 57 percent of all allegations. Those three allegation types also accounted for 59 percent of indemnity paid.

2. Anesthesia-related allegations were on the other end of the spectrum, representing just 2.8 percent of medical malpractice claims.

3. Sixty-three percent of surgical claims involved a surgeon with multiple claims. With a high claims rate trending downward, neurosurgeons constituted the highest percent of physicians with more than one claim.

4. There were an average of 9.7 claims per 100 physicians from 2015-19, down from an average of 12.4 claims per 100 physicians from 2010-14.

5. Indemnity payouts for surgery claims increased over the 10-year period, as did expenses. The rate of surgery claims with indemnity paid hit 25 percent.

6. Performance was the most frequent and costly communication issue in surgery allegations, especially for orthopedic and general surgeries.

7. The gastroenterology claims rate was markedly higher than that of other subspecialties, though the rate did decrease over a five-year period.

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