Up to 99 per cent of high-risk professionals may be sued before retirement

Date: Aug 22, 2011

A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that up to 99 per cent of professionals in high-risk medical areas – such as neurosurgeons and cardiovascular specialists – will experience a lawsuit by the time they reach the age of 65.

For less hazardous, yet equally important areas of health, nearly 75 per cent of practitioners surveyed said they had been on the receiving end of a malpractice case at some point in their career.

The study detailed experiences of more than 40,000 health care professionals from 25 different sectors, with more than 233,000 years of combined experience.

While this significant study focused on the volume of claims made by patients each year, it also serves to highlight the importance of getting experienced legal advice from a medical negligence lawyer, as only 1.6 per cent of cases that went before the courts resulted in an indemnity payment for the victim.

For those cases that do end with a financial settlement – either by a judge or through out of court proceedings – the study found that amounts varied greatly by profession.

Overall, the mean was $274,887 across all 25 sectors, with the highest payments in pediatrics ($520,923) and the lower end being for dermatology ($117,832).

According to the latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) there were more than 8,500 claims made between June 2008 and July 2009.

Of these, 66 per cent of medical lawsuits were finalised within three years of proceedings being launched – but nearly ten per cent of claims took over five years to be resolved.

By obtaining trusted legal advice from a no win no fee law firm, victims of medical negligence may be able to gain up front assessments of their case, minimising their initial expenses.

The most common ground cited by former patients was related to impeded movement and neuromusculoskeletal damage (20 per cent), followed by mental health issues (16 per cent) and procedures or care that ended in the death of a patient (12 per cent).

Nearly 70 per cent of finalised claims – either by a judge's decision or an out of court settlement – resulted in payments of under $10,000, including the 40 per cent of closed cases that did not result in a payout. 

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