The percentage of physicians sued in a given year for alleged medical malpractice has increased nearly 300% since 1980,1 thus creating an increase in expenses for insurers. The average total loss per claim (patient indemnification, in-house clerical expenses, and legal defense costs) increased 63.5% from 1976 to 1981.2 Malpractice awards rose at an average annual rate of 24.7% from 1979 to 1983.3
This explosive increase in medical malpractice litigation has resulted in higher premiums for physicians. In 1984 premiums averaged $8400, which represented 4% of the gross revenues of the average self-employed physician1 and reached a total of $3 billion. In response to the increased risk of litigation, physicians have made changes in their practices that include increasing time spent with patients, more detailed record keeping, and prescribing of additional tests and treatment procedures.1 Thus, the increasing threat of malpractice litigation contributes heavily to increases
Kraushar MF, Turner MF. Medical Malpractice Litigation in Cataract Surgery. Arch Ophthalmol. 1987;105(10):1339–1343. doi:10.1001/archopht.1987.01060100041021
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