Number of Malpractice Suits Being Challenged in Court Increases

From 1998 to 1999, researchers at Northwestern University studied the impact of the National Practitioner Data Bank on the process of resolving medical malpractice claims. The data bank is the repository for mandated reports of medical malpractice payments and other adverse actions against physicians.

The research team analyzed closed claim files obtained from insurance companies as well as claim files maintained by Florida to determine the validity of two hypotheses:

  • Physicians may be unwilling to settle some cases because they do not want a report made to the data bank.
  • Hospitals and other corporate defendants may be shielding physicians by agreeing to settle suits on condition that codefendant physicians are dropped from the case.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Improving Malpractice Prevention and Compensation Systems national program.

Key Findings

  • The results of the analyses were consistent with the first hypothesis.

  • The results of the analyses provided "only limited support" for the second hypothesis.