Medical Malpractice Statistics | MD, VA, DC
Researchers have found that medical malpractice ranks among the top causes of death in the United States. Roughly one to two in every five patients believes that some error was committed during the course of their treatment. However, medical malpractice claims only represent a small fraction of personal injury or wrongful death claims. These statistics suggest that many cases of medical malpractice are not pursued by patients who could indeed have legitimate claims.
If you suspect that you are a victim of medical malpractice, medical error, or misdiagnosis, you need to speak to a highly skilled medical malpractice attorney to learn your rights and options for seeking compensation.
With more than 30 years of experience, the medical malpractice attorneys at Bertram Law Group take a unique approach to these complex cases. As former defense attorneys for health care providers, our medical malpractice lawyers have an insider’s perspective on how medical providers treat patients and defend against medical malpractice claims. We use these invaluable insights to your benefit, crafting aggressive litigation strategies aimed at recovering maximum compensation.
When we get started, a D.C., Virginia, or Maryland medical negligence attorney from our firm will work quickly to assess the facts of your case and consult with a medical expert to determine the merit of the legal claim. We do this at no cost to you. If we believe you have a case, we will move forward immediately to demand the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Call or contact Bertram Law Group for a free initial case evaluation with a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer.
Medical Malpractice is the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.
A study from Johns Hopkins Medicine found that medical malpractice results in approximately 250,000 deaths each year. According to those figures, that would make medical malpractice the third leading cause of death in the U.S., falling only behind cancer and heart disease. It would also put medical malpractice ahead of chronic respiratory disease, the official third-leading cause of death according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Prior studies have also found that hundreds of thousands of deaths result from medical errors each year. The failure to rank medical malpractice as a leading cause of death may be attributed to the fact that many death certificates do not list medical error as a cause of death.
Despite the large number of fatalities caused by medical malpractice, only a few thousand medical malpractice wrongful death claims are made each year. A review of civil cases in a single year found that only about five percent of personal injury cases involved a medical malpractice claim.
Average Compensation in Medical Malpractice Claims
According to the most recent data, payouts for medical malpractice claims nationwide totaled slightly under $4 billion. This represents one of the lowest amounts in the last 25 years. Malpractice claims resulting in compensation of less than $500,000 have dipped over the last 25 years to just over 8,000 claims a year.
However, the number of medical malpractice claims resulting in a payout of $500,000 or more has increased over the same period to slightly more than 2,500 claims per year. Malpractice claims resulting in a payout of half a million dollars or more accounted for $2.5 billion of the approximately $4 billion of total compensation paid for malpractice claims, the data shows.
In just one year, medical malpractice payouts in Maryland totaled over $108 million from approximately 250 different claims. Over a four-year period, the average annual per capita payment for malpractice claims totaled $18.70 per resident of the state, which ranked ninth among all states.
Total compensation for medical malpractice claims in Virginia amounted to over $56 million from about 140 claims. On average over the same four-year timeframe, the average annual per capita payment for medical malpractice claims in Virginia totaled $8.41 per resident.
With a small population, even just a few medical malpractice claims can skew the figures of medical malpractice payments for the District of Columbia. Medical malpractice claims in D.C. in one year resulted in total payouts of over $9.2 million in about 20 claims. The average annual per capita payment on medical malpractice cases totaled $11.57 per resident of the District over four years.
Most Common Reasons for Medical Malpractice Claims
Among all medical specialties, a few more frequently show up in medical malpractice claims, including:
- Internal medicine
- General surgery
- Orthopedic surgery
- Family practice
Some of the top-ranking causes of medical malpractice include:
- Diagnostic errors, including misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, and failure to diagnose.
- Surgical errors, including wrong patient/wrong site/wrong procedure errors, failure to respond to signs of patient distress, and leaving equipment inside a patient.
- Treatment errors, including prescribing the wrong treatment or performing a procedure incorrectly, and injuring a patient.
- Obstetrics errors, including failing to respond to fetal distress or misuse of delivery equipment, which can result in birth injuries and injuries to the mother.
- Prescription or medication errors, including prescribing contraindicated medication, dispensing the wrong medication, or an incorrect dosage.
- Anesthesia errors, including administering too much anesthesia, causing patient distress during a procedure, or administering too little anesthesia, which can allow a patient to become conscious during surgery.
Time Involved in Medical Malpractice Settlements
Pursuing a medical malpractice settlement takes time. The statute of limitations, or deadline, to file medical malpractice claims can have a significant impact on how long it takes to reach a settlement.
The statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims are:
- District of Columbia: Three years from the date of injury
- Maryland: Five years from the date of injury or three years from the date the injury was discovered
- Virginia: Two years from the date of injury
Other factors that affect how long it takes to reach a settlement in a medical malpractice claim include:
- Recovery time: Ideally, a medical malpractice plaintiff will wait to take action until they’ve finished treatment for injuries caused by a medical error. Waiting to reach maximum medical improvement before pursuing settlement negotiations allows a claimant more certainty about the value of their claim. They will know what losses they’ve incurred so that they can pursue a settlement that demands full and fair compensation.If time limits on a claim force a plaintiff to begin settlement negotiations before they’ve finished their medical treatment and recovery, the settlement process will likely take longer, extending until the plaintiff can accurately estimate their expected future medical expenses.
- The investigation process: Recovering evidence and building a strong medical malpractice case can also draw out the settlement process. Your lawyer will need to gather and organize solid proof to show that your treatment fell below the applicable standard of care. This often means drawing upon the knowledge of experts to support your side of the story.
- Negotiations: If the parties in a medical malpractice claim vigorously contest liability for the injuries suffered by the plaintiff, a good deal of negotiation and discussions may be required before the medical defendants finally agree to accept liability in the claim.
If the plaintiff’s losses are also being contested, the parties may need to undertake considerable negotiation before they reach a mutually acceptable settlement figure. Sometimes it takes the prospect of having to go to trial to get medical defendants to come to the negotiating table and make a genuine effort to reach a settlement.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
If you’ve suffered an injury due to the negligence of a medical provider, let Bertram Law Group push for the justice and compensation that you’re owed. Our medical malpractice lawyers represent clients injured by medical errors and negligence in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. To learn more about how we can help, call or contact us today.