11% of physician career has open med mal claims

The average physician spends 50.7 months, or roughly 11% of a 40-year career with an unresolved and open malpractice claim, according to a new study from “Health Affairs.”

Study authors obtained data for 40,916 physicians across the country who were covered by a large, physician-owned liability insurer. They found the length of time between the date a claim was filed and the date it was resolved, or time to resolution, increased with the severity of the patient injury.

For example, 51% of claims for emotional injury were resolved within six months to one year. For claims involving a fatality or permanent disability, 62% took at least one year to resolve, and 17% took three or more years.

Researchers also found the time to settle claims varied depending on the physician’s age or his/her specialty. On average, claims were solved more quickly for younger physicians.

Claims for physicians ages 30 to 39 were resolved within an average of 16 months, while that increased to 21 months for physicians over age 50.

The length of time between the date a claim was filed and the date it was resolved was greatest for pediatrics and obstetrics and shortest for nephrology and oncology.

An abstract of the report is available online at http://tinyurl.com/openclaim, with an option to purchase access to the entire article.