OBJECTIVE: To characterize malpractice risk among US pediatricians.
METHODS: We analyzed malpractice claims of all pediatricians and other physicians covered by a nationwide liability insurer from 1991 to 2005 (n = 1630 pediatricians; 40 916 total physicians). We characterized annual malpractice risk among pediatricians compared with other physicians. We characterized claims according to patient age, injury type, months required to resolve the claim, and whether an indemnity payment was made. We estimated how patient age and injury type were associated with whether a claim resulted in payment to a patient (and if so, payment size) and the time required to resolve the claim.
RESULTS: The annual percentage of pediatricians facing a malpractice claim was 3.1% (7.4% among other physicians, P < .001). Among 404 claims, 83 (20.5%) resulted in an indemnity payment and 15 (3.7%) resulted in a payment exceeding $1 million. Annual rates of indemnity were lower among pediatricians (0.5%) than other physicians (1.6%, P < .001), whereas rates of payments exceeding $1 million were similar (0.13% among pediatricians and 0.11% among other physicians, P = .57). The mean indemnity payment was $562 180 (SD $667 962). Cases with permanent injury (n = 172) had larger mean payments ($703 373) compared with fatalities ($559 102; n = 131) or temporary or psychological injuries ($127 663; n = 101), P < .05. The mean time to resolution was 23.4 months (SD 21.8 months).
CONCLUSIONS: Indemnity payments among pediatricians are infrequent but large, particularly in cases with permanent patient injury rather than death or temporary injury. The time required to resolve claims may be considered to be long.
- NPDB —
- National Practitioner Data Bank
- Accepted February 15, 2013.
- Copyright © 2013 by the American Academy of Pediatrics