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Most medical malpractice claims dismissed

Boston — More than half of all medical malpractice claims requiring defense cost leads to litigation, but of those that go to court, most are decided in favor of the defending physicians, according to results of a recent study.

Investigators from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital analyzed data from across the U.S. for the years 2002 through 2005. They found more than 10,000 malpractice claims that required defense costs, Medscape Medical News reports.

Nearly 55 percent of the medical malpractice cases across all specialties were dismissed by the court. Dismissal rates were highest for cases brought against internists and medicine-based subspecialists and lowest for cases against pathologists.

Across all specialties, only 4.5 percent of claims were decided by a trial verdict, which favored defendants nearly 80 percent of the time.

"The substantial portion of litigated claims that are not dismissed in court and the length of time required to resolve litigated claims more generally may help explain why malpractice claims undergoing litigation are an important source of concern to physicians," the report concluded.

The study was published online in Archives of Internal Medicine.

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