States Where Doctors Are Least Likely to Get Sued

Wayne J. Guglielmo, MA


August 11, 2016

In This Article

Which States Are Friendliest to Doctors?

Doctors mull lots of factors when deciding where to practice—or where to remain in practice. But for those who throw a state's medical malpractice rate into the mix, there may be some surprises in store, according to Zippia, a website that provides career information and tools to professionals across various industries, including healthcare.[1]

Zippia conducted its research with 2015 information from the National Practitioner Data Bank, a federal repository of malpractice and related healthcare information. After computing the number of lawsuits for each state per 100,000 people, Zippia's number-crunchers came up with an interactive map of which states are friendliest to doctors.

At the bottom of the list (that is, the state with the fewest number of lawsuits per designated population) is Hawaii, with a mere 4.9 suits per 100,000 residents.

The next 10 least litigious states, ranging from a low of 10 lawsuits per 100,000 people to a high of 15.3, are North Carolina, Georgia, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Idaho, Illinois, Montana, Utah, Iowa, and Massachusetts.

At the other extreme are those states with the highest number of med-mal suits per 100,000 residents. Leading all others is the Big Easy, famous for its vibrant music scene, spicy cuisine, and mix of cultures. With a top rate of 44.1, Louisiana has nine times as many lawsuits against doctors per 100,000 residents as Hawaii.

The next 10 most litigious states, with rates ranging from 36.3 to 29 per 100,000, are Oklahoma, Delaware, Wyoming, Tennessee, Arkansas, New Jersey, Maine, West Virginia, Alabama, and Washington.

Zippia's list leaves a number of questions up in the air, of course, including the proportion of doctor versus non-doctor practitioner suits and a comparison of states by number of payouts per population.

By this latter—and admittedly different—yardstick, results can vary. For example, according to an analysis of 2014 federal data conducted last year by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, only six of every 1 million Wisconsin residents collected a check related to a medical malpractice claim, making the Badger State the least litigious in the nation.Nationally, the rate at the time was 27 payouts per 1 million population.[2]

Based on Zippia's analysis of 2015 federal data, however, Wisconsin is 38th on the list of most litigious states, with a rate of 16.9 suits per 100,000 residents. By this altered measure, Wisconsin still beats Louisiana by a mile, but it isn't in the same league as more doctor-friendly Hawaii.


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