Medical liability-the crisis, the reality, and the data: the University of Michigan story

J Am Coll Surg. 2006 Sep;203(3):290-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2006.05.011. Epub 2006 Jun 19.


Background: This study describes, quantifies, and evaluates the University of Michigan Department of Surgery medical malpractice experience for the 1992 to 2002 period. The goal is to gain an understanding of what our claims experience has been, what services are highest risk, and where the financial exposure lies.

Study design: The study analyzed 308 medical malpractice cases within the Department of Surgery from 1992 through 2002.

Results: There were 263 cases involving a single surgical service (defendant-only) and 70 shared cases involving multiple services. One hundred forty-four cases (47%) were settled with no payment to the plaintiff. Settlements for all cases totaled Dollars 38,718,254. The per-case expense (not including legal fees) was Dollars 125,708. Legal expenses for all cases totaled Dollars 5,356,588, averaging Dollars 17,391 per case.

Conclusions: Understanding and sharing institutional data on medical malpractice is critical to developing effective strategies for managing malpractice risk. Although many institutions treat these data as proprietary and confidential, communication of this information generates a better understanding of the opportunities that are available for development and implementation of appropriate risk-management tools.

MeSH terms

  • Hospitals, University
  • Malpractice / economics
  • Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Malpractice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Michigan
  • Risk Management
  • Schools, Medical*
  • Time Factors