Why People Sue Doctors

According to a recent JAMA Internal Medicine analysis, there are primarily five reasons patients file medical malpractice claims against doctors practicing internal medicine. Sandeep S. Mangalmurti, MD, and others extracted data from 33,747 cases involving internal medicine clinicians from 1985 to 2009 and found the following:
Failure to correctly diagnose a patient’s medical condition. Payment resulted in 34% of these types of claims; median payment was $183,300.
Breach of care due to other failures. These types of claims include failure to obtain consent and equipment failure. Although this was a common cause for a lawsuit, the percentage of payouts was relatively low – only 4.8%, with a median payment of $114,150. Errors in performing a procedure. The median payment in these types of cases was $103,203.
Failure to monitor nurses, physicians assistants, or residents. Almost a third of these types of claims resulted in a pay out to the plaintiff; median payment was $141,875.
Incorrect prescribing or administration of medication. These cases include failing to ask patients about allergies, not monitoring patients on medication which requires monitoring, and prescribing the wrong medication or dosage. About 30% of the claims resulted in payment with an average payment of $89,600.