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Which Medical Specialties are the Riskiest?

Posted on May 15, 2023

Some medical specialties are inherently riskier than others, and the American Medical Association recently took a look at which ones are the subject of the most medical liability claims. The AMA Physician Practice Benchmark Survey reviewed several years of data for physicians who provide at least 20 hours of patient care each week in the United States.

Surgical specialties are generally associated with the highest risk and claim frequency, while internal medicine is at the lower end of the scale. Some highlights on the report include the following statistics:

Overall, the least likely specialists to be sued worked in allergy and immunology, followed by hematology and oncology, and endocrinology and diabetes. Some specialties, such as pediatrics and dermatology, had no claims filed at all during the time period studied. However, researchers pointed to the pandemic, associated with a sharp reduction in healthcare services, as the possible explanation.

In addition to specialties, age and gender may also play a role. Physicians with more years in practice have more exposure to risk: just 9.5 percent of doctors under 40 have been sued as compared to nearly half of physicians older than 54. Also, female physicians have fewer claims than male doctors. Over the long term, 23.8 percent of female doctors have been sued in their careers, as compared with 36.8 percent of male doctors.

Regardless of specialty, gender or age, the plain truth is that medical professionals sometimes make mistakes. Whether it’s birth injury or another type of medical malpractice in Philadelphia, discussing the details of the case with an experienced attorney can help you understand your legal options. In the last few years, almost every teaching hospital in the city of Philadelphia has paid 8-figure verdicts and settlements to clients of Tom Duffy. If you would like to discuss your case with us, contact us.