The Incidental Economist at Academy Health is summarizing some research on medical malpractice by looking at which doctors get sued and pay out awards for malpractice:
they looked at the concentrations of claims among physicians.
What they found is this: Most docs who were sued (84%) were only sued once. But they account for only 68% of paid claims. About a third of claims are accounted for by just 1% of doctors.
Docs who get sued more are more likely to get sued again.
Malpractice is fairly rare and most of the time it is “incidental” malpractice; something went wrong on an isolated basis.
I find the most interesting part is the confirmation that malpractice is almost a Pareto distribution where 1% of the universe is causing a massively disproportionate share of the problems. Focusing on these docs and these malpractice claims would lead to far more effective practices of medicine, less suffering and a less busy court system without limiting access to the courts and awards for truly egregiousness cases of malpractices. It would be in most people’s best interests, including the malpractice insurers, to find way to either correct correctable systemic errors of practice from the high award providers or get those providers out of clinical settings where they are harming people. For some of the highest risk practitioners, it might be in the everyone else’s best interest to buy the medical license back.
Or we can rely on self-interested guilds to police their own members with the interest of the public as their number one priority while assuming that they won’t use their public trust and political power to shift blame and costs to someone else…. Unpossible!