Less than 5% of Kentucky physicians account for 50% of malpractice claims (Natl. Practitioner Data Bank). However, most of these physicians continue to practice.
The vast majority of physicians are dedicated and highly competent practitioners. The problem is,the medical community appears reluctant to police their own. The facts are pretty clear: A small number of physicians is disproportionately responsible for a significant number of malpractice claims; yet these doctors are rarely disciplined by the state Board of Medical Licensure.
Take a moment to look at the data provided below from the National Practitioner Data Bank. Our conclusion? The medical establishment has largely left improper care to the victim, their families and an attorney to resolve. Is this the best way to govern a profession? Perhaps not, but it is the reality of the situation. In these instances, we pursue and hold accountable those who are providing sub-standard care. Here are some facts to consider:
HOW OFTEN ARE DOCTORS SUED?
Rarely. A recent Harvard study concluded that of all medical errors that resulted in death or injury, only four percent resulted in a claim brought against the physician.
ONLY FIVE PERCENT OF DOCTORS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR HALF OF KENTUCKY’S MEDICAL MALPRACTICE PAYOUTS
According to the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank, just 4.7 percent of Kentucky’s doctors have been responsible for 49.9 percent of all malpractice payouts to patients. During the period under review for this recent study, 411 doctors, all of whom made two or more payouts, paid $171.9 million in damages since 1990. Even more surprising, just 1.6 percent of Kentucky doctors (141), each of whom has paid three or more malpractice claims, were responsible for 26.7 percent of all payouts.
DOCTORS WITH REPEATED MALPRACTICE CLAIMS AGAINST THEM SUFFER FEW CONSEQUENCES
Only 9.9 percent of Kentucky doctors who made two or more malpractice payouts were disciplined by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, according to the NPDB. Only 12 percent of doctors who made three or more malpractice payouts were disciplined. And only 20 percent who made four or more malpractice payouts were disciplined.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF DOCTORS HAVE NO RECORD OF MALPRACTICE PAYOUTS
In Kentucky, 83.3 percent of doctors have not made a medical malpractice payout since September 1990, when the NPDB was created.
LAWSUITS AREN’T DRIVING UP MALPRACTICE INSURANCE RATES
Overall, malpractice insurance accounts for only 2.8% of physician practice operating expenses in Kentucky, which is 12% lower than the national average.