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Has your doctor ever been sued for malpractice?

When you go to a hospital for surgery or to find out what's causing your illness, you literally put your life in your doctor's hands. You expect to lie unconscious on a surgeon's table or to receive a treatment plan that can set you on the path to recovery. You don't plan for things to get worse.

Unfortunately, while most doctors practice with care and pay close attention to the details of your case, some are more likely to make bad decisions. Decisions that can lead to death or serious, lasting problems. As a result, it's important that you know how to identify and avoid these bad doctors before you put your life in their hands.

One percent of the nation's doctors are responsible for one-third of all paid malpractice claims

According to Claims Journal, a recent study found that just 1% of the nation's doctors were responsible for one-third of all paid malpractice claims. The study also found that while 94% of doctors didn't have any claims filed against them, the doctors who were paying claims were frequently racking up multiple cases of malpractice. In fact, 93% of all doctors who had paid five or more claims were still practicing.

The authors noted that because these doctors' records would follow them from state to state, they didn't often move. Instead, the doctors facing multiple claims tended either to leave medicine or move from a group to solo practice. The study noted this only raised the risk factors involved for patients seeing these doctors. In solo practice, the doctors have less oversight and fewer opportunities to get advice from their colleagues.

How to find out if your doctor was sued for malpractice

To learn if anyone sued your doctor for malpractice, you can contact the California state medical board. But as Consumer Reports writes, the information with the state medical board may be incomplete or misleading. California doesn't record some types of settlements below $30,000, so Consumer Reports notes that 10% of all California settlements were for exactly $29,999.

More importantly, a single malpractice suit doesn't necessarily mean anything. Anyone can sue a doctor. As Forbes noted in 2016, nearly 75% of all doctors in low-risk fields had faced at least one malpractice suit. In high-risk fields, nearly 99% of all doctors faced at least one suit.

The key is to watch out for doctors who have paid multiple claims. There may be cases in which these doctors were just unlucky, but if they're paying multiple claims, it's good reason to be wary. If you learn that your surgery is assigned to a doctor who has paid three or more malpractice claims, you may want to schedule with another surgeon. Likewise, if you learn that your diagnosis came from a doctor who paid multiple malpractice claims, you might want to get a second opinion.

Even good doctors can have bad days

The best doctors are still only human. They can have bad days and may take shortcuts or overlook important details. Sometimes, they may make things worse for their patients-instead of better. However, the statistics suggest that if you can avoid the worst offenders you'll be far more likely to receive quality care.

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Law Offices of Neil M. Howard
717 North Douglas Street
El Segundo, CA 90245

Phone: 424-259-4807
Fax: 310-452-6810
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We’ve successfully represented patients as north as Redding and as south as San Diego.