Internal Medicine Malpractice Cases

Internists generally are physicians who diagnose and treat serious, chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.  Information released earlier this year reveals  that nearly half of the country’s internists have been sued for medical malpractice.

In March, Medscape, a website focused on the medical profession, released a review of medical malpractice lawsuits involving internists (“Medscape Internist Malpractice Report 2021”). The report was a breakout from a 2021 Medscape medical malpractice survey of 4,300 physicians in nearly 30 specialties.

According to Medscape, 47% of the 330 internists surveyed said they had been sued for medical malpractice at least once.

That is a slight drop from the 2019 survey, which revealed 54% of internists had been sued. Medscape credits this drop to COVID -19; in that few people sought out medical care for conditions other than those related to the pandemic.

Almost half of the internists sued in the 2021 report had more than 25 years of experience. Two-thirds had at least 16 years of experience.

Top Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Allegations

The 2021 report detailed the top allegations involved in the internists’ medical malpractice lawsuits.  They are:

  • Failure to diagnose/delayed diagnosis – 38% of the lawsuits
  • Poor outcome/disease progression – 30% of the lawsuits
  • Complications from surgery or other medical treatment – 21% of the lawsuits
  • Failure to treat/delayed treatment – 20% of the lawsuits
  • Wrongful death – 18% of the lawsuits

These results are similar to Medscape’s 2021 comprehensive report, in which misdiagnosis, surgery complications, and failure to treat also were among the top allegations in the medical malpractice lawsuits of all 4,300 physicians surveyed.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Financial Compensation

According to the internists, nearly all the injured patients – or their surviving families – suing for medical malpractice received monetary compensation. Some of the financial awards exceeded $2 million.

Yet, sixty-eight percent of the internists surveyed felt the outcome of their litigation was fair.

Only 39% of the internists said they wouldn’t have done anything differently in handling their patients’ care.  The responses by those who said they would have done something differently were wide ranging, with the top response being better patient chart documentation. Other responses included:

  • Reviewed patients medical history more carefully
  • Spent more time with patient and family
  • Ordered a second medical opinion

Medical errors that seriously injure patients are largely preventable and occur frequently. A 2016 study from Johns Hopkins University concluded that preventable medical errors were the nation’s third leading cause of death.

When serious medical errors occur, medical malpractice lawyers can investigate to determine why an error was made and who is responsible for the resulting patient injuries.

If you believe you were severely injured or a family member died as a result of a preventable error made during medical care, speak with a personal injury lawyer experienced in conducting medical malpractice investigations.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham.  Posted in Blog July 18, 2022.


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