Medical Malpractice Experience of Physicians:  Predictable or Haphazard?

Frank A. Sloan, PhD; Paula M. Mergenhagen, PhD; W. Bradley Burfield, MA; Randall R. Bovbjerg, JD; Mahmud Hassan, MBA, PhD
JAMA. 1989;262(23):3291-3297. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430230076029.
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This study uses a large malpractice database from Florida to assess the concentration of losses among physicians, predictability of claims experience, characteristics of physicians with favorable vs unfavorable experience, and effects of claims experience on physicians' practice decisions and on actions taken by the state's licensing board. Most payments by insurers involved a comparatively small number of physicians. Physicians with relatively prestigious credentials had no better, and on some indicators, worse claims experience. If anything, physicians with adverse claims experience were less likely to make subsequent changes in their practice, such as quitting practice or moving to another state. Physicians with very poor claims histories were more likely to have complaints filed against them with the Florida licensing board, but the sanctions against physicians with either poor or excellent histories were not severe. Physicians with adverse claims experience from incidents that arose between 1975 and 1980 had appreciably worse claims experience from incidents that arose during 1981 to 1983.

(JAMA. 1989;262:3291-3297)


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