Medical Careers: Who Gets Sued?

Closeup of dentist hand taking mirror from on of dental tools.If you are considering a profession as a medical doctor– be it as an allergist in Washington DC like DC allergist Dr. Michael Kletz– or in another field, you should understand the level of responsibility you are assuming. Doctors have to make life-altering decisions on a daily basis and, if they are careless, will be held accountable for their actions. By late career, 61% of MD’s have faced a malpractice claim. However, some fields are more prone to malpractice suits than others.

If you are an allergist in Washington DC, for instance, you are not as likely to face litigation. However, it does happen. A NJ allergist and three pediatricians were forced to pay when a jury determined they did not adequately warn a young boy’s family about the severity of his peanut allergy. Each of the doctors failed to explain that the child could go into anaphylactic shock and sustain brain damage. None of the four doctors prescribed an Epipen or other fast-acting treatment, in case this young boy ingested a peanut product. Today, that young boy is in a vegetative state. Many allergists, however, such as this Manassas VA allergist, go through their careers with a sterling reputation, ensuring that their patients are well informed about their medical needs and choices.

Misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose are other common reasons for malpractice suits. In the case of a misdiagnosis, a doctor can subject a patient to unnecessary stressful treatments, and drugs with severe, debilitating side effects. Cancer treatment is extremely hard on the body and for this reason, oncologists are among the most commonly sued specialists, as a cancer misdiagnosis can be devastating. Washington DC dermatologists, especially the cosmetic dermatologists in DC, are not likely to face litigation. However, an inaccurate skin cancer screening in Washington DC, or unnecessary skin cancer treatment, can lead to legal action. It is best to be aware of all risks before picking your medical specialty or subspecialty.

The doctors that most commonly face malpractice claims are:

  • Oncologists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Urologists
  • Obstetrician/Gynaecologists
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Plastic Surgeons
  • Orthopedic Surgeons
  • General Surgeons
  • Thoracic-Cardiovascular surgeons
  • Neurosurgeons

The doctors that face the least malpractice claims are:

  • Psychiatry
  • Pediatrics
  • Family General Practice
  • Pathology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Anesthesiology
  • Dermatology
  • Nephrology
  • Dermatology

Whichever field of medicine interests you, the good news is this: most malpractice claims are settled out of court. Even if a case reaches the court, the doctor still has a statistically high chance of winning. Fear of a malpractice suit should not deter you from pursuing your dream career. We simply hope you will be aware and do everything in your power to minimize the risk.