Malpractice Statistics

The information provided on this page has been taken from the National Practitioner Data Bank website.

Malpractice trends for the United States , Full Data Table

Each of the following graphs provide medical malpractice data for all health care professionals as well as for physicians (MDs and DOs) only. Claims against all health care professionals include claims against nurses, nurse practitioners, psychologists, social workers, counselors, optometrists, dentists, dental hygienists, pharmacists, pharmacy techs, podiatrists, physical and occupational therapists and speech therapists.

Since 2001 there has been an unquestionable drop in the total number of paid medical malpractice claims against health care professionals including physicians in the U.S. The amount spent on these claims has dropped significantly as well. The first two graphs show this trend.

For example, there were just over 16,000 paid medical malpractice claims against MDs and DOs in 2001 in the U.S. By 2016 that number had dropped to below 8500 which is nearly a 50% drop in 16 years. The amount paid on these claims dropped by about 23% during that time.

Figure 1: Total number of Paid Medical Malpractice Claims for the United States from 1991-2017 for All Health Care Practitioners Combined as Well as for MD/DOs Only

Figure 2: Total Amount Paid for All Medical Malpractice Claims from 1991-2017 for All Health Care Practitioners and MD/DOs Only in the United States.

The third graph shows that, when adjusted for inflation, the cost of medical malpractice in the U.S. has dropped even further.

Figure 3: Figure 2 Data When Adjusted for Inflation.

The next two graphs show that most of the drop in paid medical malpractice claims have been in those that resulted in smaller payouts (less than $500,000) which, for physicians, have dropped nearly 55% since 2001.

Figure 4: Number of paid Medical Malpractice Claims Each Year in the U.S. that were Settled for Less than $500,000.

The number of large claims ($500,000 or more) against health care providers has been far more constant over that same period of time.

Figure 5: Number of paid medical malpractice claims in the U.S. each year that were settled for $500,000 or more.

The average amount paid on claims of $500,000 or more has gone up either. Figure 6 show that the total paid on these claims has also been surprisingly constant since 2001. This means that, even though the sky is the limit on how much an individual claim might pay in most states, the average amount paid on those claims hasn’t budged much. Also note that figure 6 is not adjusted for inflation.

Figure 6: The annual amount paid on all paid medical malpractice claims in the U.S. that were settled for $500,000 or more.

Even though the cost of medical malpractice has dropped precipitously since 2001, malpractice costs still vary extensively from State to State. The following graph shows that, in 2014, only six states accounted for nearly half of all medical malpractice payouts. In fact, since 2003, the state of New York has consistently accounted for nearly 20% of all medical malpractice costs in the US.

Even in New York the distribution of medical malpractice is far from even. Here’s a map showing how the cost of medical malpractice premiums for doctors differed throughout the state in 2013-2014. As the map shows, medical malpractice insurance for doctors is extremely expensive in New York City. Long Island counties have, by far, the highest rates for medical malpractice in the State (and probably in the United States) whereas in upstate New York, medical malpractice premiums are far more reasonable.

State Malpractice ranking for 2014

6 States

Individual state trends for medical malpractice from 2003-2015

The drop in the number of paid malpractice claims against health care workers hasn’t been even across all states either. Some states (e.g. Texas) have seen a dramatic drop in both the number of paid medical malpractice claims and the total amount paid in medical malpractice. Other states (e.g. Louisiana) have seen very little change in either the number of paid claims or the amount paid.

Even so, very few states saw either an increased number of paid claims or an increase in total medical malpractice cost since 2003. This further demonstrates the fact that medical malpractice does not appear to be a contributing factor to rising health care costs anywhere in the US.

Below are reports on the trends in medical malpractice for each individual state. Included in each report is a description of any tort reform law the state has aimed at controlling medical malpractice costs and whether the law appears to have had much of an effect on these costs. A three page PDF report is linked to the name of each state and a csv table containing the raw data is linked next to it.

Alabama, Data Table
Alaska, Data Table
Arizona, Data Table
Arkansas, Data Table
California, Data Table
Colorado, Data Table
Connecticut, Data Table
Delaware, Data Table
District of Columbia, Data Table
Florida, Data Table
Georgia, Data Table
Hawaii, Data Table
Idaho, Data Table
Illinois, Data Table
Indiana, Data Table
Iowa, Data Table
Kansas, Data Table
Kentucky, Data Table
Louisiana, Data Table
Maine, Data Table
Maryland, Data Table
Massachusetts, Data Table
Michigan, Data Table
Minnesota, Data Table
Mississippi, Data Table
Missouri, Data Table
Montana, Data Table
Nebraska, Data Table
Nevada, Data Table
New Hampshire, Data Table
New Jersey, Data Table
New Mexico, Data Table
New York, Data Table
North Carolina, Data Table
North Dakota, Data Table
Ohio, Data Table
Oklahoma, Data Table
Oregon, Data Table
Pennsylvania, Data Table
Rhode Island, Data Table
South Carolina, Data Table
South Dakota, Data Table
Tennessee, Data Table
Texas, Data Table
Utah, Data Table
Vermont, Data Table
Virginia, Data Table
Washington, Data Table
West Virginia, Data Table
Wisconsin, Data Table
Wyoming, Data Table