Medical Malpractice and Physician Discipline: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
38 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2018 Last revised: 17 Jul 2020
Date Written: July 4, 2020
We study the overlap between the medical malpractice (“med mal”) and medical disciplinary systems, using the records of Illinois physicians who held an active license at any point from 1990-2012. We quantify the specialty-specific risk of having a paid med mal claim or a disciplinary action; how many physicians have both; and the extent to which physicians with 2+ paid claims or 2+ disciplinary actions account for a disproportionate share of the activity of both systems. We also examine which factors are associated with paid claims and disciplinary actions, and whether physicians with multiple paid claims or disciplinary actions are concentrated at particular hospitals. Physicians with 2+ paid claims account for 2.6% of all licensed physicians, 54% of paid claims and 52% of payouts. Physicians with 2+ disciplinary actions account for 0.5% of physicians and 38% of all disciplinary actions. The risk of paid claims and disciplinary actions varies greatly by specialty. Physicians who attended non-U.S. medical schools are more likely to have paid claims but (except for high-disciplinary risk specialties) are not more likely to be subject to disciplinary action. Physicians with prior paid claims are more likely to be the target of disciplinary action – but not vice versa. A small number of Illinois hospitals are staffed by physicians with unusually high numbers of paid med mal claims, disciplinary actions, or both.
Keywords: medical malpractice, licensing, disciplinary action, discipline
JEL Classification: K23, K32, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation