What are the most common specialties for medical malpractice lawsuits?
According to Medscape’s 2019 medical malpractice report, the top 10 medical specialties that show up in medical malpractice lawsuits as defendants are:
#1 General surgery
#4 OB/GYN and Women’s Health
#5 Specialized Surgery
#7 Emergency Medicine
What stuck out to me the most about this list is that all of them, with the exception of some radiologists and emergency medicine physicians, are in surgical fields or at least perform some procedures.
From my perspective as a former hospital administrator and long-time Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I have some ideas as to why this may be the case.
• When something goes wrong in a surgery or procedure, it’s often immediately recognized by the patient or family. It might be an airway issue or anesthesia overdose not handled by the anesthesiologist. It could be the surgeon accidentally puncturing the bowel. Compare these examples to the situation of a hospitalized patient whose condition generally declines over time—it’s sometimes hard to nail down what happened or who might be at fault.
• Surgeons sometimes make mistakes in their technique that cause affirmative harm—like cutting a nerve or blood vessel during an operation. These mistakes are easier to understand and more obvious to lay people than a scenario where a doctor should have done more but didn’t.
• Many surgeons could work on their bedside manner and should pay more attention to the post-operative questions and complaints of patients. For example, some surgeons develop a bias that any post-operative complaint of pain isn’t important because all patients are expected to experience pain. In many plastic surgery cases that I’ve handled, surgeons have ignored patient complaints about fever and redness. When surgeons treat these issues as normal, without doing an evaluation, they leave open the possibility that something dangerous is going on that needs prompt treatment.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor medical or surgical care, then contact a top-rated experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney for help in evaluating your potential case.