Medical Malpractice Statistics

Medical malpractice happens more often than you might imagine. Patients can be hurt when their healthcare providers fail to diagnose them promptly, order the wrong tests, or prescribe the wrong medications. Others may lose their lives if a doctor gives them the wrong treatment or makes a mistake during surgery. 

The legal team at Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky knows that incompetent or inexperienced physicians exist in all fields of medicine, and the result of their actions or inactions can be catastrophic. Here are some statistics that shed light on this worrisome situation.

Statistics On General Medicine Malpractice

Malpractice can happen anywhere, and it includes everything from billing errors to nursing home abuse. Here are some sobering numbers:

  • Average age for people filing medical malpractice claims – 42 years.
  • Percentage of all U.S. deaths due to a medical error – 10%
  • Physicians who have faced at least one lawsuit by the time they turn 65 – 99%
  • State with the highest number of medical malpractice claims – New York
  • State with the lowest number of medical malpractice claims – North Dakota
  • Percentage of malpractice claims that resulted in payments – 37%
  • Number of patients who die every year due to medical mistakes – 7,000 to 9,000

Prescription Overuse

It is not hard to find news stories about people dying from prescription overdoses, many linked to the opioid pandemic. When patients are given the wrong medication or too much of it, it can do more harm than good. Prescription opioid overdoses made rose in 2020 to 16,416.


Misdiagnosis refers to medicines that negatively impact patients’ health, unnecessary surgeries, treatments that cause permanent damage, and other actions that may result in a patient’s death. Here are some statistics:

  • Number of patients nationwide receiving a misdiagnosis every year – Approximately 12,000,000
  • Number of patients who die or are left permanently disabled every year because their conditions were either missed, misdiagnosed, or treatment delayed – More than 100,000
  • Percentage of patients who receive a wrong diagnosis during their first appointment with a doctor – 21%
  • Percentage of patients who receive a diagnosis that is not accurate or complete – 66%
  • Percentage of patients who seek a second opinion only to end up with the same diagnosis they received the first time around – 12%
  • Percentage of misdiagnosis in children – 38%

Surgical Malpractice

Among the many interactions that a patient has with their doctor, surgery occupies a special place. This is because patients place their trust and their lives in their doctor’s hands while under anesthesia. However, surgical malpractice is all too common.

  • Percentage of surgeons who admit to having performed surgeries for profit – 16.7%
  • Percentage of surgical errors resulting in temporary injuries – 59%
  • Percentage of surgical errors resulting in death or permanent injuries – 40%
  • Number of yearly surgical errors – 4,000 

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