New York has been ranked the worst state for medical malpractice in the country, according to a new report.
Data looking at the number of medical malpractice cases in all 50 states from 1990 to 2023 showed that states in the northeast were most likely to misdiagnose conditions or fail to treat patients.
Medical malpractice is a legal action that alleges a doctor or healthcare professional was negligent, failed to perform their basic duties, or caused a patient to die or become injured needlessly.
These may include missed or late diagnoses, bungled operations or dangerous prescription mix-ups.
New York was ranked the worst state for medical malpractice, while Alabama had the best ranking
Malpractice suits tend to be due to misdiagnosis. According to law practice Buchanan Firm, 31 percent of doctors are sued due to failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis
The report calculated the number of cases alongside the number of doctors and other healthcare workers in each state, then took an average to determine how many occurred for each practitioner.
The researchers found that New York took first place with nearly 65,000 cases of medical malpractice among 51,500 doctors. Pennsylvania and New Jersey followed close behind.
Alabama, meanwhile, was deemed the safest state, averaging just 0.151 reports of malpractice per practitioner.
The data, collected by law firm Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC, comes months after more than 75,000 workers from Kaiser Permanente Unions instigated the country’s largest healthcare strike, and US hospitals have battled understaffing and overwhelming diseases such as Covid-19.
Population size also could have led to more cases in certain states, which means that doctors are responsible for more patients.
Mike Montesi, managing partner at the firm, said: ‘Interestingly, reports of medical malpractice have fallen decade on decade. Between 2001 and 2010, the average annual total of medical malpractice payment reports sat at 16,182, falling to 11,906 for the subsequent decade.’
‘The East Coast appears to be the most dangerous region for medical patients, with six of the 10 states in the study having a shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean.’
‘With reports of understaffing and strikes for wage increases within the healthcare sector, it will be interesting to monitor incidents of medical malpractice within the coming years for possible spikes or drops.’
New York topped the list as the state with the highest rate of medical malpractice.
According to the report, there have been 64,594 medical malpractice payment reports recorded in the state since 1990.
With 64,594 practitioners, that averages out to 1.25 cases per doctor.
The worst year for New York was 1992, during which 2,562 reports were lodged.
While New York remains the worst state for medical malpractice, rates have plummeted since 2000. For example, reports dropped from 2,505 in 2001 to 1,162 in 2022.
In second place was Pennsylvania, with one malpractice report per 36,719 practitioners. The numbers were highest in the 90s and early 2000s, with a steady improvement since 2010.
New Jersey took third place, with two incidences of medical malpractice for every three doctors. This totaled 30,906 incidences.
More than half of the reports cost less than $250,000, while 307 were more than $2 million.
Rhode Island, Maryland, Indiana, and Connecticut rounded out the bottom of the top 10 list with an average of 0.6 incidents per doctor.
These high numbers could, in part, be due to population size. New York has the fourth-highest population, with 19.8 million residents.
Pennsylvania, which is also second on the malpractice list, ranks right behind New York, with just under 13 million residents.
However, the most populated US state, California, did not crack the list of the top 10 worst states.
Alabama sat at the bottom of the list with the fewest number of malpractice incidents. The state averaged just 0.151 reports per practitioner, with just 2,606 incidents since 1990.
Oregon was the second-best state, followed by Alaska, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Colorado. Virginia, Arizona, Minnesota, and Vermont rounded out the top 10 best states.
Population size also could have factored into which states came in toward the bottom. Alabama ranked 24th in terms of population, with about five million residents. Oregon follows closely behind, with 4.2 million people.
Malpractice suits tend to be due to misdiagnosis. According to law practice Buchanan Firm, 31 percent of doctors are sued due to failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis.
Failure to treat or delayed treatment makes up 16 percent of cases, and wrongful death accounts for 13 percent.
Earlier this year, the American Medical Association (AMA) reported that obstetricians were the most likely type of doctor to be sued between 2016 and 2022.
This could be due to potential deaths and other cases involving babies, which is more emotionally significant than many other medical cases.