How many medical malpractice cases are there every year in the US?

Millions of people are injured each year due to substandard, negligent medical care. Yet only a small percentage of medical malpractice cases per year result in lawsuits.

An average of 20,000 cases per year are filed in the United States. However, out of all the deaths resulting from medical malpractice, only a small fraction result in a wrongful death lawsuit .

The most common types of medical negligence reported include surgical, diagnostic, and prescription drug errors. A recently updated study conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, one of the largest independent social research organizations in the country, found that serious medical errors happened most frequently in the ICU, ERs and operation rooms. 

Out of all the patients surveyed in the study who reported being victims of medical mistakes, 73% stated they suffered from injuries due to the above-mentioned errors. When extrapolating these figures to the public, it is entirely possible that millions of unrecognized individuals are injured because of medical errors annually in this country.

Unfortunately, few of these victims filed a lawsuit to pursue compensation.

Why this number is too low

A comprehensive study conducted at Johns Hopkins in 2016 found that, on average, 250,000 people die annually in the U.S. as a result of medical errors, making medical malpractice the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer in this country.  And, depending upon what is classified as a medical error, the number of people who die due to medical errors every year could be as high as 440,000.

Contrast that with only 20,000 medical malpractice cases per year that result in lawsuits. Why are so many who have suffered from injuries reluctant to bring a claim against the negligent healthcare professional(s)? Common misconceptions and reasons are:

  • They may not realize they have been the victim of a medical error
  • They believe attorneys are aggressive 
  • They signed a waiver and believe they signed away their patient rights
  • They are intimidated by the legal process involved
  • Statute of limitations has expired
  • Lack of sufficient evidence
  • They do not know they can have an arbitration lawyer of their choosing outside of the medical insurance company

Medical errors you shouldn’t ignore

Click here to learn more about examples of medical malpractice due to negligence.  The sad truth is that most medical errors are preventable. Injuries sustained due to negligence on the part of a doctor, other healthcare provider, or hospital can result in pain and suffering, while being very costly for the victim. 

If you believe a medical mistake caused a death, medical malpractice is a way to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Medical malpractice lawsuits can contribute to making sure it doesn’t happen to someone else and provide injured patients and the surviving family members compensation for their losses.