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Risk factors for health care negligence easily identified

A group of researchers discovered that there could be a serious problem with policy that allows doctors who have been accused of medical malpractice many different times to continue treating patients. With just a bit of research, common risk factors for future incidents of medical malpractice can be revealed. The negligence exercised by this surprisingly small group of physicians tends to share a common thread, which could tip New Jersey patients off to whether it is time to find a new provider.

The researchers published their paper in the popular medical journal the New England Journal of Medicine. The paper details their approach to the study, which included only medical malpractice claims that had actually resulted in payments for the victim. Of the 66,000 payments they looked at, 54,000 medical providers were responsible. Furthermore, those 54,000 physicians all shared a common trait -- most of them were men.

In total, 82 percent were men, were mostly older and tended to practice in only a handful of areas. Family medicine, general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology and internal medicine were the four most common areas of medical care where paid incidents of medical malpractice occurred. Even more telling of future medical malpractice claims? Prior incidents. With every additional malpractice claim filed against a provider, his or her chance of being later accused of another malpractice event rose significantly.

Those same researchers believe that these risk factors can be used to identify providers who are more likely to engage in negligence in order to intervene. Both closer supervision and additional training have been suggested as possible interventions that could ultimately protect patients. Until such a time that hospitals and doctor's offices in New Jersey begin to routinely check with providers and intervene where needed, patients are still at risk for unnecessary injuries from negligent health care physicians, at which point pursuing compensation is often necessary for full recovery.

Source:, "Small Number of Doctors Responsible for Many Malpractice Claims, Stanford Study Shows", Lisa Aliferis, Jan. 27, 2016

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Alan D. Bell
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