Determining the exact number ofmedical malpracticeOccurrence in Washington every year is difficult, but based on the data we have we can assume the numbers are high. Medical errors have become so common in the US that they are one of the leading causes of death. according to aStudy by Johns HopkinsA study published in 2016 kills more than 250,000 people in the United States each year from medical errors.
The Johns Hopkins findings mean fatal medical errors account for about 10% of all deaths in the US and are the third leading cause of death in the country. Given that fatal medical errors are so common, we have to wonder how many medical errors that cause moderate to serious injuries occur each year. Calculating this type of medical error is challenging, but the numbers could be in the hundreds of thousands or more.
If you believe you or a loved one may have been a victim of medical malpractice in Washington, contact Seattle medical malpractice attorney Matt Menzer of the Menzer Law Firm. Matt has decades of experience successfully handling medical negligence claims in Washington and Hawaii.
Use ourOnline Formor call206.970.2685to schedule a free initial consultation with a Seattle medical malpractice attorney.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a physician fails to provide the required standard of care and the failure results in personal injury to the patient. This is also known as professional negligence or medical negligence.
There are many forms of medical error including misdiagnosis, misdiagnosis, surgical error, medication error and failure to obtain informed consent. Misconduct may be the result of the behavior of a healthcare professional or the fault of a negligent healthcare facility, e.g. B. a hospital that is itself understaffed or hires people without the necessary qualifications.
If you think you might have a medical liability case, talk to our medical liability attorneys at the Menzer law firm.
Medical malpractice in the United States
Average 12,414Cases of medical malpractice are reportedRosenbaum & Associates included in the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) each year by searching data from 2009-2018.
These cases do not include every case of medical malpractice. Only payouts for claims against doctors and hospitals are reported to the NPDB. Many cases of medical malpractice go unreported by patients or patients feel unable to make claims. Many other cases are dismissed or denied due to other circumstances, although medical negligence has occurred.
Between 2009 and 2018, reported cases of medical malpractice in the US decreased 18.5% from 14,017 to 11,429. During those years, victims of medical malpractice received $38.5 billion in settlements and court judgments. The amount paid out varied greatly from year to year and from state to state.
New York had the most reports of medical malpractice between 2009 and 2018. California and Florida had the second and third most frequent reports of malpractice.
In terms of how much each state paid for medical malpractice between 2009 and 2018, Washington paid less than New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Georgia, Maryland, Texas, Ohio, Connecticut, Arizona, and Michigan , Virginia, Indiana and Missouri.
Nebraska, Washington, D.C., Idaho, Montana, Delaware, Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota had the lowest medical malpractice payouts.
Statistics on medical malpractice claims in Washington
Through the NPDB, you can review the number of reported medical malpractice payouts in each state for each year. This data does not include all allegations of medical negligence made against healthcare professionals; It only includes payments.
In 2015 there were 210Medical Malpractice Paymentsin Washington. In the following years there were 175, 175 and 172 medical liability payments.
Although large medical malpractice settlements often make the headlines, most claims receive much smaller payouts. 2018:
- 45 payments were less than $50,000;
- 38 payments ranged from $100,000 to $249,000
- 28 payments were between $250,000 and $499,000
- 16 payments totaled $1 million or more
According to NPDB data, physicians (MDs) are the most common healthcare professionals involved in medical malpractice payments. In 2018, there were 102 medical malpractice payments involving physicians in Washington.
The second most common medical malpractice payer, according to the NPDB, was dentists, with 33 payouts in the same year. There were 11 medical malpractice compensation payments involving chiropractors and eight payments involving non-physician medical providers (MO).
Statistics on medical malpractice claims and payouts can vary from source to source, as you can see by comparing results from the NPDB and the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC).
For the five-year period ending December 2017, there were 4,898Claims for medical malpracticefiled against the insurer pursuant to the OIC Medical Malpractice Insurance Annual Report 2018. Insurers and auto-insurers paid $631.9 million for 2,167 claims. (The other claims were not paid.)
2,602 lawsuits (53%) were filed as a result of these insurance claims. Medical malpractice lawsuits resulted in insurance company payments 40% of the time, with an average payment of $491,659. Plaintiffs who did not file suits received an average of $102,883 in such insurance payments.
How were medical malpractice claims resolved in Washington?
Most medical malpractice claims do not go to court, although plaintiffs file suits.
The OIC reported 915 claims resolved in court between 2013 and 2017, 525 claims resolved through some form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and 1,728 claims resolved by the parties themselves between 2013 and 2017. In addition, 1,730 claims were abandoned by the claimant.
Of the medical malpractice lawsuits reported by insurance companies and self-insurers, only 24 cases were settled with a judgment for the plaintiff. Twenty-two claims resulted in compensation payments averaging $1.4 million.
The OIC also found that medical malpractice claims that went to trial tended to have more than one defendant and the plaintiff's compensation in these cases tended to be higher than the average compensation payment.
Mediation is the most widely used ADR method. According to the OIC, 476 claims were settled through mediation, resulting in 399 compensation payments. The average payout was $539,566.
The arbitration resulted in 15 awards for the plaintiffs and 13 decisions in favor of the healthcare providers. There were 14 compensation payments averaging $145,704.
Twenty-one claims have been resolved through private litigation (another method of ADR), and only 12 of these private litigation result in awards of damages. The average payout was $577,331.
It's important to note that Washington has no damages caps for malpractice claims. There is no legal limit to how much compensation you can receive for your injuries.
The most common types of medical malpractice claims in Washington
According to the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, they existed4.238Medical malpractice claims between 2015 and 2019 that resulted in some kind of cost to insurance companies. These costs may take the form of defense costs, a payment to the plaintiff, or both.
Just under half of those claims, 1,744, involved an error on the part of a physician. Another significant percentage of the total demands in Washington concerned a behavioral or legal issue, such as B. the liability for vicarious agents. This legal concept is often used against an organization (like a hospital) to hold them responsible for the actions of an employee or third party when they had the right, ability, or duty to control their actions.
The 4,238 medical malpractice claims during this five-year period break down as follows:
- Errors/malfunctions: 1,744 complaints
- Invalid performance: 714 claims
- Improper technique: 243 claims
- Improper administration: 211 claims
- Patient history, investigation, or work-up issue: 65 claims
- Retained surgical or other foreign body: 61 claims
- Patient monitoring problem: 47 claims
- Administered the wrong dosage: 37 claims
- Medication ordered incorrectly: 36 cases of damage
- Incorrect medication administered: 35 claims
- Wrong body part: 29 claims
- Device utilization issue: 29 claims
- Incorrect diagnosis or misdiagnosis: 24 claims
- Intubation problem: 23 claims
- Wrong procedure or treatment: 22 claims
- Incorrect medication dispensed: 20 claims
- Patient positioning problem: 16 claims
- Conduct/Legal: 1,100 claims
- Liability for vicarious agents: 812 claims
- Failure to ensure patient safety: 142 allegations
- Missing informed consent: 29 applications
- Sexual Misconduct: 26 complaints
- Failure to take appropriate action: 801 claims
- Failed to diagnose: 441 claims
- Non-treatment: 103 claims
- Non-monitoring: 100 claims
- Failure to detect a complication: 43 claims
- Failure to order an appropriate test: 37 claims
- Delay in performance: 243 claims
- Diagnosis delay: 124 claims
- Treatment delay: 81 claims
- Delay in performance: 24 claims
- Communication/supervision: 228 applications
- Failure to direct or communicate: 88 claims
- Communication problem between practitioners: 62 claims
- Improper monitoring: 30 claims
- Failure to report patient's condition: 17 claims
- Failure to monitor: 17 claims
- Continuity of care/care management: 62 applications
- Early release from the institution: 20 applications
- Unnecessary/Contraindicated Procedure: 51 Complaints
- Unnecessary procedure: 26 applications
Among physicians, the most common allegations of medical malpractice are:
- Failed to diagnose: 392 claims
- Invalid performance: 389 claims
- Improper technique: 160 claims
- Improper administration: 142 claims
- Diagnosis delay: 102 claims
- Failure to instruct/communicate with a patient or his family: 65 claims
- Failure to treat: 53 claims
- Retained surgical or other foreign body: 50 claims
- Patient history, investigation, or work-up issue: 49 claims
- Treatment delay: 40 claims
- Failure to detect a complication: 31 claims
- Failure to order an appropriate test: 31 claims
- Communication problem between practitioners: 31 claims
- Failure to monitor: 29 claims
- Administered the wrong dosage: 24 claims
- Unnecessary procedure: 23 applications
- Wrong body part: 18 claims
For dental specialties, the most common medical malpractice claims are:
- Invalid performance: 216 claims
- Improper technique: 19 claims
Other types of care providers, such as B. Nurses, physician assistants and therapists were most often involved in applications for:
- Invalid performance: 107 claims
- Failure to ensure patient safety: 64 allegations
- Improper technique: 64 claims
- Failure to monitor: 47 claims
- Failed to diagnose: 44 claims
- Non-treatment: 32 claims
- Improper administration: 32 claims
- Patient monitoring problem: 27 claims
- Communication problem between practitioners: 24 claims
- Treatment delay: 19 claims
- Delay in diagnosis: 17 claims
- Incorrectly administered drugs: 16 claims
- Failure to instruct/communicate with patient or family: 16 claims
Claims against organizations such as hospitals and medical practice groups that are most commonly affected:
- Liability for vicarious agents: 775 claims
- Failure to ensure patient safety: 63 allegations
- Failure to monitor: 22 claims
- Improper monitoring: 21 claims
- Improper management: 20 claims
These statistics tell us that while medical malpractice can take many forms, most often it involves an error or omission of some kind. For example, improper performance often involves a failure to exercise a professional's standard of care. If a doctor performs substandard treatment, they can be held liable for medical malpractice.
Where do most medical errors occur?
Of those 4,238 medical malpractice lawsuits filed over a five-year period in Washington, most involved allegations of medical malpractice in a general or acute care hospital or within a medical group or practice. According to the statistics:
- 1,855 lawsuits were filed against a general or acute care hospital
- 1,4000 lawsuits were filed against a medical group or practice
- 333 lawsuits were filed against a dental group or practice
- 107 lawsuits were filed against a nursing or specialist nursing facility
- 102 lawsuits were filed against a local or state correctional facility
- 49 lawsuits were filed against a chiropractic group or practice
- 43 lawsuits were filed against a podiatric group or practice
- 35 lawsuits were filed against an outpatient surgery center
- 314 lawsuits were filed against all other healthcare organizations
The most common cases of medical malpractice occurred in an operating room or in a doctor's office:
- 1,012 claims occurred in an operating room
- 779 claims occurred in one office
- 552 claims occurred in an emergency department
- 535 claims occurred in one patient room
- 248 cases of damage occurred in an ambulance
- 209 claims occurred at a location other than an inpatient facility
- 184 claims occurred in a delivery room or delivery room
- 162 claims occurred in a special procedure room
- 133 cases of damage occurred in a radiological department
- 80 cases of damage occurred in a walk-in clinic
- 53 claims occurred in a laboratory
- 42 claims occurred in an intensive care unit
- 34 cases of damage occurred in a rehabilitation center
- 30 cases of damage occurred in a physiotherapy department
- 21 claims occurred in a facility support area
- 164 claims occurred at all other locations
Who commits the most medical malpractice in Washington?
Not surprisingly, most medical malpractice claims are filed against a physician. Almost 50% of all claims in this 5-year period involved a doctor. Certain types of specialties—such as emergency physicians, obstetricians and gynecologists, and general practitioners—are used more frequently than other specialties.
According to the insurance regulator, between 2015 and 2019, medical malpractice lawsuits were filed against the following types of providers:
- 2,083 claims against a medical specialist (including surgeons, general practitioners, radiologists, neurologists, psychiatrists and more)
- 1,034 claims against an organization
- 790 claims against another type of healthcare provider (eg, nurses, physician assistants, technicians, pharmacists, podiatrists, and psychology)
- 331 claims against a dental specialty
This information can be further broken down by specialty of the physicians (2,083 items):
- Emergency medicine: 245 claims
- Obstetrics and gynaecology: 239 applications
- Family doctor's practice/family doctor's practice: 228 claims
- General surgery: 223 claims
- Orthopedic surgery: 208 claims
- Radiology: 143 claims
- Anaesthesiology: 105 claims
- Internal medicine: 104 claims
- Neurological surgery: 86 claims
- Urological surgery: 56 claims
- Cardiovascular disease specialists: 51 claims
- Gastroenterology: 26 claims
- Hospitaller: 46 claims
- Plastic surgery: 44 claims
- Pediatrics: 42 claims
- Otolaryngology: 41 claims
- Neurology: 19 claims
- All other doctor types: 157
Among the non-medical service providers (790 applications), nursing staff were most frequently accused of treatment errors:
- Nursing: 445 claims
- Physician Assistant: 85 claims
- Podiatry: 59 claims
- Chiropractic: 47 claims
- Laboratory technician: 29 claims
- Physiotherapy: 23 claims
- emergency medicine; 21 claims
- Pharmacy: 15 claims
- All other types: 66 claims
Which areas of Washington have had the most medical malpractice claims?
Not surprisingly, Washington's more populous areas -- like King County -- had a greater number of medical malpractice claims. The claims are broken down by region as follows:
- King: 1,298 claims
- Pierce: 504 claims
- Spokane: 472 claims
- Puget Sound Metro: 357 claims
- East balance: 306 claims
- Yakima Tri-Cities 300 claims
- Snohomish: 299 claims
- Clark: 259 claims
- West record: 238 claims
- North Sound: 198 claims
Who is most affected by medical malpractice in Washington?
According to the data, more women experience medical malpractice than men in Washington, with 2,400 of the 4,238 claims filed by women. Additionally, older Washingtonians appear to be most affected by medical malpractice, with most claims involving those aged 51 to 60. The age breakdown of the claims is as follows:
- Newborns: 153 claims
- Infants under 1 year: 49 claims
- Ages 1 to 10: 72 claims
- Ages 11 to 20: 129 applications
- Age 21 to 30: 367 applications
- Age 31 to 40: 585 applications
- Age 41 to 50: 760 applications
- Age 51 to 60: 908 applications
- Age 61 to 70: 694 applications
- Age 71 to 80: 314 applications
- Age 81 to 90: 184 applications
- Over 90: 23 claims
What types of injuries were most common?
People who suffer medical malpractice can be hurt in a variety of ways, from a relatively short-term injury to emotional trauma to a life-changing permanent disability. In far too many cases, medical malpractice results in death. Survivors of a person killed by medical malpractice may be eligible to applyunjust deathClaim against the medical provider or organization.
Based on information from the Insurance Commissioner, the following types of injuries were alleged in claims filed in Washington between 2015 and 2019:
- Minor Temporary Injury: 1,200 claims
- Death: 679 claims
- Major temporary damage: 587 claims
- Major Permanent Injury: 402 claims
- Minor permanent injury: 384 claims
- Emotional injury only: 335 claims
- Main permanent damage: 287 claims
- Minor damage: 239 damage cases
- Serious Permanent Injury: 125 claims
How are medical malpractice claims typically settled?
Of the 4,238 medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Washington between 2015 and 2019, most were either settled (1,483) or dropped by the plaintiff (1,422 lawsuits). Of the cases that resulted in a payment to the claimant, 70.5% of the claims were settled through a negotiated settlement. 21.1% were resolved through some form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration.
Representation by an experienced Washington medical malpractice attorney can increase the likelihood that your case will have a favorable outcome—such as a settlement. An experienced attorney knows how to put together a strong case that will help you get maximum compensation for your injuries.
Do you have a medical malpractice case?
If you believe that you or a loved one have been the victim of healthcare negligence, do not hesitate to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney, Matt Menzer. He and his team have decades of experience successfully handling negligent medical care claims. He will review your case and if it is determined that a doctor or other healthcare professional acted negligently, he will guide you through the process of pursuing economic and non-economic damages in a settlement or in a personal injury or wrongful death proceeding.
It is important to call uscontact usas soon as you suspect negligence. The Washington statute of limitations for medical malpractice is generally three years from the time the negligence occurred. This may seem like a long time, but it can take months or years to fully investigate your case and document your damage. We must start immediately.
The Chances of Winning a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Finally, juries returned verdicts favoring medical providers in approximately 50% of cases featuring strong evidence of negligence. In short, the legally and factually complex nature of a medical malpractice claim means the odds favor medical providers at trial.
The Average Medical Malpractice Settlement Amount
The average payment or settlement amount for one claim was $624,724.
To do so, four legal elements must be proven: (1) a professional duty owed to the patient; (2) breach of such duty; (3) injury caused by the breach; and (4) resulting damages.Which element of malpractice is hardest to prove? ›
Many articles discuss what negligence is and how to prove it, but the least understood element among these four is causation. Additionally, out of these four elements, causation is typically the most difficult to prove, especially in medical malpractice cases.How likely are you to win a malpractice suit? ›
Roughly 5% of victims of medical malpractice win cases for treatment errors and diagnostic errors. About 13% of plaintiffs win settlements for errors related to surgery and 27% are compensated for medication errors.How hard is it to win a malpractice lawsuit? ›
It is difficult—and therefore expensive—to demonstrate to a jury that a healthcare provider acted unreasonably. It is often at least as difficult—and therefore at least as expensive—to demonstrate that the negligence, rather than the underlying illness or injury, is what harmed the patient.