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Do Less Experienced Doctors Make More Mistakes?

November 24, 2021

With worries that the pandemic would overwhelm hospitals, many states issued calls for “all hands on deck.” In response, many experienced doctors came out of retirement. New doctors were also recruited—those right out of medical school.

Here in Michigan, Governor Whitmer and Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director, Orlene Hawks, recognized the critical need for current graduating medical students to be licensed as fast as possible. As a result, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs updated the licensing guides for graduating MD/DO students in Michigan so they could help with COVID-19 immediately.

Inexperienced doctors fresh out of school, with little experience can make mistakes. Inexperienced healthcare provider errors often are made with medication dosage, improperly administering a drug, or failing to note drug interactions. However, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is far and away the top reason for malpractice claims by inexperienced healthcare providers.

So Do Less Experienced Doctors Make More Mistakes?

Not necessarily. Research shows that resident physicians (MD and DO) accounted for less than 1% of paid-out claims but had an average payout of just over $206,000.

The age of most medical practitioners involved in the Michigan medical malpractice claims was in their 40s. More than a third of the practitioners involved were between ages 40 and 49 (6,257).

  • Ages 50 through 59: 4,944
  • Ages 30 through 39: 4,368
  • Ages 60 through 69: 2,259

In another study, Stanford University’s School of Medicine and Stanford Law School used data from the National Practitioner Data Bank to calculate concentrations of claims among physicians. They found that doctors with more experience get sued more than inexperienced doctors. In fact, only 8% of doctors under 40 have been sued. Thus, research shows that that the probability of getting sued increases with age. The American Medical Association says this is because older physicians have been in practice for a longer time; and as a result, have had more exposure. In addition, the AMA says that the probability of a doctor being sued two or more times and the average number of claims filed against physicians also increase with age. While fewer than 2% of physicians under 40 have been sued at least twice, this fraction rises to 28.0% for physicians ages 55 and over.

Research shows that these are the top five allegations for newer doctors:

  • Failure to diagnose;
  • Delay in diagnosis;
  • Improper performance;
  • Improper management; and
  • Delay in treatment.

What are the Top Five Types Of Mistakes for Newer Doctors?

  • Diagnosis-related;
  • Surgery-related;
  • Treatment-related;
  • Obstetrics-related; and
  • Medication-related.

Most Physicians Will Be Sued for Medical Malpractice

A study by the American Medical Association found that half of all medical practitioners will be sued for medical malpractice by age 55. General surgeons and obstetricians-gynecologists face the highest lawsuit risks. About 64% of ob/gyns and 63% of surgeons were sued at least once during their careers.

And remember that mistakes can also be made by nurses and staff in the postoperative phase of treatment. This can include the administration of the wrong medications, inappropriate intervention that leads to infection, or failure to give adequate postoperative instructions that result in complications.

Contact us Today for a Free Consultation!

For a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. We can discuss your situation if you believe you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a medical error.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital to accommodate you.