Malpractice defense expensive even after winning

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Even when the outcome is good, providers involved in lawsuits still could pay out the nose, MedPage Today reported. When malpractice claims result in an indemnity payment, the mean defense costs are $45,070, and when there is no resulting payment, the mean defense costs are $17,130, according to a letter to the editor published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The authors also noted defense costs vary by specialty because of differences in how frequent malpractice claims are and how big the awards are. For example, the mean defense costs per claim resulting in an indemnity payment is $83,056 in cardiology and $78,890 in oncology, compared with $24,007 in dermatology and $23,780 in ophthalmology.

"These findings show that although the costs of dispute resolution are higher for claims that result in indemnity payments, there is still a meaningful cost of resolving claims that never result in payment," the authors wrote. "Lowering the costs of dispute resolution could lead to considerable savings for physicians and insurers, particularly in specialties with high mean defense costs." Article