Article Shows Misinformation About Malpractice Litigation

An article in Becker’s Hospital Review demonstrates the need for careful review of any article that purports to give information about medical malpractice (which Tennessee now calls “health care liability”) lawsuits.

The article purports to list the number of filings per state per 100,000 residents and ranks Tennesseans as the 5th highest filers of malpractice lawsuits – at the rate of 33 per 100,000 people.  That would mean that Tennesseans file about 2145 such lawsuits per year (we have a little over 6,500,000 people living here).

But that number is wrong.  Information compiled by Tennessee’s Administrative Office of the Courts demonstrates that there were 374 medical malpractice suits filed in 2013-2014 and 356 suits filed in 2014-2015. (Data is kept on a July 1 – June 30 fiscal year; 2015-2016 data is not yet publicly available). My guess is that the number of suits filed in all of 2015 was down from what it was in fiscal year 2014-2015, but even assuming that it was the same (356), the rate of filed suits was less than 5.5 per 100,000.  That simply didn’t happen.

Thus, Tennessee should move from the 5th position to the 49th position. But, of course, that assumes that the data on the other states is reported correctly.

So, perhaps a transcription error was made from the report or press release from which this article was prepared. Or perhaps there was an error made when gathering the information from the DataBank. Worse yet, the information in the DataBank is wrong. But someone made an error somewhere and that makes me question, at a minimum, the accuracy of all of the data in this article.

Thanks to Tony Duncan for bringing this article to my attention.