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Dropped Medical Malpractice Claims

Dropped Medical Malpractice Claims

Definition

Dropped Medical Malpractice Claims —

The most frequent outcome of a medical malpractice claim is that it will be "dropped" (i.e., abandoned) by the claimant, rather than either (1) settled or (2) adjudicated in a court of law. According to a study titled "Dropped Medical Malpractice Claims: Their Surprising Frequency, Apparent Causes, And Potential Remedies," by Dwight Golann, roughly 59 percent of all claims brought against medical practitioners are "dropped" by claimants, and dropped claims were more than twice as frequent as settlements and almost four times as frequent as claims adjudicated by verdicts.

Medical malpractice claims are dropped for a number of reasons, including (in order of frequency from highest to lowest) (1) the case against the doctor turns out to be weaker than originally believed; (2) the claim involves multiple defendants, only some of whom are dropped from the claim; (3) changes in prevailing medical treatment standards (i.e., a doctor's method of treatment at the time of the claim was of state-of-the art quality, yet subsequent advances in medical technology made such treatment appear substandard); (4) changes in the plaintiff's condition (typically for the better); and (5) plaintiff's lack of candor with his/her attorney.

Although they result in no indemnity payments, dropped medical malpractice claims do involve significant costs. In the study noted above, the cost per dropped claim averaged $25,735 and approximately $44,200 per dropped case. (A dropped claim involves a claim against a single individual or entity, whereas a dropped case involves a claim against multiple individuals or entities.)

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