Medical Malpractice Statistics


total payouts for medical
malpractice in 2012

$3.6 Billion

total amount of payouts for
medical malpractice in 2012

More than 12,000 paid medical malpractice claims resulted in total payments of $3.6 billion in 2012. Roughly 45 percent of the cases involved medical malpractice in the inpatient setting, while outpatients accounted for 41 percent. Some cases included treatments in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.


Roughly a third of all medical malpractice cases involved errors in the diagnosis process, while nearly a quarter were related to surgeries, according to Diederich Healthcare. Other leading categories include treatment, obstetrics, medication, monitoring and anesthesia. Some instances of medical malpractice involve several different types of medical errors.


The vast majority of paid medical malpractice claims result in settlements. In fact, 93 percent of payouts were the result of a negotiated settlement, while judgments accounted for only 5 percent during one recent year. These statistics indicate that most medical malpractice claims are settled before a jury reaches a verdict, before trial or even before a claim is ever filed in court.

-Public Citizen

The cost of medical malpractice claims is declining, according to Public Citizen. The organization reports that medical malpractice payouts accounted for a record low portion of the nation’s total health care bill in 2012. In fact, paid medical malpractice claims represented less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the nation’s total spending on health care that year. Public Citizen also found that spending on medical malpractice insurance premiums and litigation defense dropped to the lowest level in a decade.

Total medical malpractice
payments in 2012 were


lower than in 2011.


accounted for 20% of all

2012 payouts

Diederich Healthcare reported that the total cost of medical malpractice payouts fell more than 3 percent in 2012 compared to the prior year. The largest single category of medical negligence payouts involved “failure to diagnose,” accounting for a fifth of the total payments on medical malpractice claims in 2012.

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