-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- American doctors spend
nearly 11 percent of their careers with malpractice claims waiting
to be resolved, new research indicates.
But the analysis of data from a large national malpractice
insurance agency also revealed that some specialists spend nearly
one-third of their careers with open malpractice claims.
The typical medical malpractice claim isn't filed until almost
two years after the alleged incident, and isn't resolved until 43
months after the alleged incident, according to the study, which
was published in the Jan. 7 issue of the journal
Psychiatrists spend the least amount of time with open
malpractice claims -- a total of nearly 16 months, or just over 3
percent of their careers. Neurosurgeons spend the most time with
open malpractice claims -- nearly 131 months, or 27 percent of
their careers, the investigators found.
The length of time it takes to resolve a malpractice claim takes
a toll on patients, doctors and the legal system, the researchers
said. The time spent dealing with open malpractice claims may be
even more stressful for doctors than the financial costs, they
"We believe that the time required to resolve malpractice claims may be a significant reason that physicians are so vocal about malpractice reform, and that any attempt at malpractice reform will need to take the speed with which cases are resolved into account," corresponding study author Anupam Jena, assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and general internist at Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a Harvard news release.
New strategies are needed to speed resolution of malpractice
claims and to reduce the number of baseless claims, the researchers
"Our sense is that we are probably spending too long to resolve many of these cases and that lengthy time to resolution has many unanticipated costs to patients, physicians and the health care system as a whole," study co-author Seth Seabury, a senior economist at RAND Corporation, said in the news release.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers a
guide to health care quality.
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