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Survey: Why are doctors sued for medical malpractice?

It seems likely that many of our Covington readers could answer the question that was at the heart of a recent Medscape survey of more than 4,000 primary care doctors and specialists: Why are physicians sued for medical malpractice? The bottom line is that they are sued when they are negligent and that negligence causes harm to a patient.

The survey by the website devoted to health care professionals dives into the question by asking doctors to name the top causes of legal claims against them. The most common cause of medical malpractice lawsuits is no surprise: failure to diagnose.

Far too often, those failures to diagnose lead to untreated conditions that worsen into emergencies resulting in long-lasting harm. Thirty-one percent of the survey respondents named failure to diagnose; it tied with abnormal injuries to patients as the most common cause of malpractice suits.

In order, here are the other causes listed: failure to treat (12 percent); poor documentation of instructions to patients (4 percent); errors in medication administration (4 percent); failing to hew to safety procedures (3 percent); lack of consent/improperly obtaining consent (3 percent).

The specialties sued most often are ob/gyn and women's health (85 percent); surgeons (83 percent); orthopedics (79 percent); and radiologists (72 percent). The specialty with the fewest malpractice claims: oncology, though its 34 percent is still considerable. Internal medicine and family medicine physicians were second-lowest, with 46 percent having been sued.

Those who have been injured by a negligent doctor or hospital can speak in Covington with a skilled attorney experienced in medical malpractice litigation.

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