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10 States Where You Are Least Likely to Be Sued for Malpractice

Cortney Ikpe

For physicians, it is often not a question of whether you will be sued, but when. This is can be a tough concept to come to terms with when you feel you do everything in your power to deliver the safest and most effective care possible to your patients. The ever-increasing litigious state of medical care is evidenced by the fact that medical malpractice payouts hover around $3 billion annually, averaging one payout per hour.  Try a quick google search of “when to sue your doctor.” You will find your search produces over two million results of advice on the topic.

This is something that is highly concerning for most physicians, especially because it seems that they have no control in the matter. However, a recent study from Zippia, a website that provides career information to professionals, has found that physicians actually can control the likelihood of being sued, as it can depend on the state in which you choose to practice. Zippia counted the number of malpractice suits in each state and then divided by the state’s population in order to control for population differences. The numbers are reported in suits per 100 thousand residents. Here are the ten states where you are least likely to be sued as a physician (and five where you are most likely to be sued).

  1. Hawaii – Only 4.9 suits per 100 thousand residents.
  2. North Carolina – 10 malpractice suits per 100,000 residents.
  3. Georgia – 3 suits per 100,000 residents.
  4. South Dakota – 1 malpracitce suits per 100,000 residents.
  5. New Hampshire – 4 suits per 100,000 residents.
  6. Idaho – 6 suits per 100,000 residents.
  7. Illinois – 3 malpractice suits per 100,000 residents.
  8. Montana – 14.8 malpractice suits per 100,000 residents.
  9. Utah – 15 suits per 100,000 residents.
  10. Iowa – 2 malpractice suits per 100,000 residents.

And the states where you are most likely to be sued for malpractice:

  1. Louisiana – 44.1 suits per 100,000 residents.
  2. Oklahoma – 36.3 suits per 100,000 residents.
  3. Delaware – 35.2 malpractice suits per 100,000 residents.
  4. Wyoming – 34 suits per 100,000 residents.
  5. Tennessee – 33 suits per 100,000 residents.

As for the reasons these physicians get sued, there is no data that identifies how certain types of suits may correspond with specific states. However, Medscape’s Malpractice Report for 2015 gives a general idea of why doctors are being sued across all states. One of the big indicators is specialty, with Ob/Gyn & Women’s Health being at the top of the list. 85% of Ob/Gyn physicians report having been sued. General Surgery is not far behind, with 83% of these physicians experiencing a malpractice suit. The most common reasons for these lawsuits include “failure to diagnose,” “patient suffered an abdominal injury,” and “failure to treat.” More interesting notes from the study include:

  • After the age of 60, 80% of physicians had experienced at least one malpractice suit over the course of their careers.
  • Male physicians are 9% more likely to be sued than female physicians as at least one of the parties named in a suit.
  • For those physicians who had been named in a lawsuit, 36% claimed to think about the threat of a malpractice suit “almost all the time.”

Choosing where you want to practice can be a difficult decision, as you most likely have several important considerations. While pay and proximity to family are some of the most important considerations, estimating the likelihood/frequency with which you may be sued can be important too. Malpractice suits are nearly unavoidable, especially if you belong to one of the specialties that experience a higher rate of malpractice claims. However, you do have some control in that you can choose your practice location.

To locate the best jobs in any of these states, use Resolve’s custom search to find the openings that you want, where you want them. Get started on your job search by clicking this link or calling us at (877) 758-3318 and getting in touch with our team today.