The Ohio Department of Insurance released its most recent report – Ohio 2009 Medical Professional Liability Closed Claim Report – which indicated that after four years of decline, malpractice suits are on the rise in the state.

A total of 3,344 medical malpractice claims were reported in 2009. Over three quarters of the cases (76%) resulted in no indemnity payment. Of that 76%, the large majority (almost 65%) were dismissed without prejudice, or abandoned by the plaintiff.

About 5% of the claims were dismissed with summary judgment or directed judgment, meaning the case was in front of a judge. About 4% of the cases ended after trial with a verdict for the defendant, and a little over 2% of the cases were resolved with a settlement or by alternative dispute resolution (for example, mediation).

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Only 24% of the malpractice cases resulted in an indemnity payment; the majority of the payments (almost 22%) were the result of the parties reaching a settlement. A mere 5% of the cases went to trial and ended in a verdict, and less than 1% of the cases (0.84%) resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff. 

A total of 802 claims resulted in a payment, and of those, 57 claims resulted in a payment of more than $1 million. The physician specialties for which the most claims were filed were (in order): internal medicine, general surgery, emergency medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, family physicians/general practitioners, radiology, orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology, cardiovascular disease specialists, neurology, and pediatrics. Of those, neurology had the highest average paid indemnity ($1,530,218).

The majority of claims (1,176) involved death, with an average indemnity payment of $406,329, but the highest paid average indemnity ($1,266,637) was for “permanent grave” injuries such as quadriplegia and brain damage, which require life-long care.

The entire report, as well as the reports for the past five years, can be accessed here.