Across the country, medical malpractice payments are dropping

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A new study has found that the number of payments for medical malpractice claims has dropped sharply since 2002.

The study also found that many doctors are seeing declining liability insurance costs and payment amounts. The study was published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers analyzed data from Illinois, California, New York, Colorado and Tennessee for the period from 2002 to 2013. They found that the overall rate of paid malpractice claims per 1,000 physicians dropped from 18.6 to 9.9 during that time. The average annual decrease was estimated to be 6.3 percent for doctors of medicine (MDs) and 5.3 percent for doctors of osteopathic medicine (Dos).

Trends in liability premiums paid by doctors were mixed. In Illinois, premiums charged to internists and obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYNs) by the state’s largest issuer of medical malpractice insurance policies dropped by 36 percent from 2004 to 2013. The premiums paid by general surgeons decreased by 30 percent. California and Tennessee experienced similar declines. Colorado saw a drop in premiums for internists but a rise for OB/GYNs and general surgeons, while New York saw an increase in premiums charged by the state’s largest insurer for all three types of doctors.

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