Medical Malpractice Statistics

Medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States. Learn all of the facts and statistics surrounding the medical and legal aspects of medical malpractice so you can be prepared with all of the information!

  • Researchers: Medical errors now third leading cause of death in United States (Washington Post, 2016)
  • The term “Never Event” was first introduced in 2001 by Ken Kizer, MD, former CEO of the National Quality Forum (NQF), in reference to particularly shocking medical errors—such as wrong-site surgery—that should never occur. (Patient Safety Network, 2019)
  • 195,000 patients die in hospitals each year because of preventable mistakes. (Dr. George Stanislaw, 2019)
  • The top 5 malpractice allegations are from: diagnosis (33%), surgery (23%), treatment (18%), obstetrics (10%), and medication/anesthesia (10%). (MDMag, 2014)
  • The most common sources of medical malpractice claims from 2013 to 2017 were diagnostic errors. (CSU Fresno, 2019)
  • Medical malpractice occurs when a health-care provider deviates from the recognized “standard of care” in the treatment of a patient. The “standard of care” is defined as what a reasonably prudent medical provider would or would not have done under the same or similar circumstances. (Jason Konvicka, 2013)
  • The average loss for birth injuries was $2.5 million and for emergency room incidents it was $2.3 million. For patients who died as a result of negligent emergency room treatment, the economic losses were estimated at $1.1 million in 2007 dollars. (Suing for Medical Malpractice, 1993)
  • Over 30% of physicians end up paying $10,000+ in medical malpractice insurance. (Wais Vogelstein Forman, 2014)
  • Although some medical malpractice cases involve minor injuries, 80% of cases are related to severe patient injuries or deaths. (Harvard Health, 2019)
  • New York leads the nation in medical malpractice payouts. In 2014 alone, New York medical negligence payouts totaled around $690 million (Washington Post, 2016)
  • Malpractice can result in patients being administered medications that they are allergic to or that are contraindicated for their condition (or when other medications are also administered) ( Journal of the American Medical Association, 2020)
  • Medical malpractice is more than a surgeon making a mistake during a surgery. It can include a failure to diagnose your condition, a misdiagnosis, an incorrect prescription, a lack of informed consent, and more. (John Hopkins University, 2016)
  • While the cost of medical malpractice insurance to health care providers is only $1.9 billion dollars per year, the cost resulting from preventable medical errors to patients and families is between $17 billion and $29 billion dollars per year. (Howard Ankin, 2019)
  • The mean age of a person who files medical malpractice claims is 42 years old. ( University of California at San Diego, 2019)
  • According to a 2010 report by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, one in seven hospitalized Medicare patients experience a serious medical error (Briskman, 2016)
  • Approximately 2% of those suffering from medical malpractice file claims for compensation. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2020)
  • Some estimates suggest lawsuits against OBGYNs and other providers involved in the treatment of pregnant women comprise about 20% of all medical malpractice cases. (Power Rogers, 2019)
  • In most states, you must bring a medical malpractice claim fairly quickly — often between six months and two years, depending on the state. (Coulter Boeschen, 2020)
  • Approximately 15,000-19,000 lawsuits are filed each year in the U.S. claiming medical malpractice or negligence (Rad Law Firm, 2016)
medical malpractice statistics