Fewer Than 2% of Physicians Actually Responsible for Half of Medical Malpractice Settlements
Fewer than 2% of all physicians reporting to National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) over the past 25 years were responsible for half of all settlements. The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) is an electronic information repository created by Congress. It contains information on medical malpractice payments and certain adverse actions related to health care practitioners, entities, providers, and suppliers. These payouts from the fewer than 2% of physicians reporting equaled a total of more than $41 billion in settlements and verdicts. The study also found that these physicians who were in the high dollar payout category and had one malpractice claim payout had a 74.5% chance of another payout, which was more than twice the rate for all physicians who had a single payout.
The same study found that while this small number of physicians are responsible for the bulk of medical malpractice suits and settlements, almost none lost clinical privileges or were subject to disciplinary action by licensing boards. In fact, only 12.6% had an adverse licensure action reported to the NPDB, and 6.3% had a clinical privileges action reported. These are troubling statistics because they indicate a pattern that does not penalize troublesome doctors that are responsible for medical malpractice.