What are the odds that your malpractice claim makes it to court?

Americans are a litigious culture.  The high number of medical malpractice cases causes both political parties to call for reform.  The malpractice claims that make it to court, however, are not many as you may think.   According to the Wilson Quarterly:

A surprising number of cases “simply disappear, as plaintiffs abandon them,” writes Dwight Golann studied 2,094 malpractice cases in Massachusetts that closed between 2006 and 2010.  Almost half–46 percent–were dropped by the plaintiff. (The remainder resulted in a settlement or went to court).

Why are so many malpractice claims dropped.  One reason is that in Massachusetts requires a viability review by a screening tribunal to through out frivolous lawsuits.  Also, as the suit unravels, the plaintiff can uncover information that leads them to conclude that malpractice did not occur.

A patient may discover, for instance, that one step in a complex procedure he though his doctors had skipped was just not recorded, leaving him with an inaccurate perception of the treatment he received.

These dropped cases are expensive, however.  Insurers spend an average of $44,200 on each dropped case in 2010.


  1. Unfortunately while the culture is erred, we definitely still have a serious problem with mistakes in the medical arena.

  2. Medical malpractice can result from any treatment action or a failure to take medical action. One hopes that all steps are recorded and kept in case of errors. Thanks for the article and the awareness of how many of these cases have been dropped at the time the article was written.

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