The litigation lobby has worked hard to advance the theme (accepted at face value in places like the New Republic) that a few bad apples in the medical profession account for most malpractice claims. On the other hand, some medical observers (see Apr. 10-13, 2003) have pointed out that if it’s true that five percent of doctors account for a majority of malpractice payouts, the most accurate description of that five percent would be not “incompetent M.D.s who should not be in practice” but rather “members of high-risk specialties in litigious localities”.
Reinforcing this latter view, a Pew Foundation project has surveyed 1,333 Pennsylvania specialists and drew responses from 824 physicians in high-risk fields including emergency medicine, general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, obstetrics/gynecology and radiology. “Eighty-six percent of specialists had been named in a malpractice suit at least once during their careers, and 47 percent had been sued in the three years prior to the survey.” Details today at Point Of Law, which also has new posts on Eliot Spitzer and on John Kerry’s Pennsylvania fund-raising.