10 States with the Most Malpractice Payments

From 2003-2013, physicians made one malpractice payment for every 1,994 Americans. However, some states had much higher rates.

The National Practitioner Data Bank, a project of the Health Resources and Services Administration, annually tracks the number of malpractice payments made per state.

From 2003-2013, 160,619 medical malpractice payments were made across the US. Divide that number into the total population of 320 million, and the data show that one payment was made per every 1,994 Americans.

However, that average number doesn’t fully reflect the wide gap between states. For instance, Alabama had just 827 medical malpractice payments in the decade, a rate of one payment per 5,844 people. In fact, Alabama had the lowest rate, based on population. Other states with low per capita rates were Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

Still, plenty of states have far higher rates of malpractice payments. What follows is a list of the states with the highest numbers of malpractice payments per capita.

Population: 2.89 million

Malpractice payments (2003-2013): 1,869

Rate: 1 payment per 1,548 people

The lone Midwestern state on the list, Kansas doctors found themselves facing a significantly higher malpractice payment rate than the national average. In addition to the malpractice payments, Kansas’ doctors also faced 2,958 adverse actions from 2003-2013.

Population: 19.55 million

Malpractice payments (2003-2013): 12,752

Rate: 1 payment per 1,533 people

Florida is home to some 23,000 practitioners, and while the weather is famously sunny, the climate for physicians isn’t. In addition to the malpractice payments, Florida doctors also saw 21,822 adverse actions between 2003 and 2013.

Population: 1.05 million

Malpractice payments (2003-2013): 698

Rate: 1 payment per 1,506 people

In terms of total number of payments, Rhode Island scores quite well. However, when you factor in their small population, the numbers don’t look so good. In addition to the 698 malpractice payments, doctors in Rhode Island were also issued 1,201 adverse actions from 2003 to 2013.

Population: 2.09 million

Malpractice payments (2003-2013): 1,385

Rate: 1 payment per 1,505 people

New Mexico is something of a regional outlier. It’s the western-most state on the list and the only southwest state to make the Top 10. New Mexico doctors faced 2,404 adverse actions from 2003 to 2013.

Population: 1.85 million

Malpractice payments (2003-2013): 1,253

Rate: 1 payment per 1,479 people

West Virginia is another small state that poses an outsized malpractice track record. In addition to the 1,253 malpractice payments, the state’s 3,007 practitioners faced some 2,899 adverse actions between 2003 and 2013.

Population: 4.65 million

Malpractice payments (2003-2013): 3,823

Rate: 1 payment per 1,209 people

Nearly 9,000 physicians practice in Louisiana (8,717). In addition to the high rate of malpractice payments, those doctors also faced 9,891 adverse actions between 2003 and 2013.

Population: 646,449

Malpractice payments (2003-2013): 543

Rate: 1 payment per 1,190 people

Washington, DC has the smallest population on the list. And while it’s not a state, DC competes with even the biggest states when it comes to malpractice payment rates. Doctors in the district were also subject to 721 adverse actions over the same time period.

Population: 8.9 million

Malpractice payments (2003-2013): 7,963

Rate: 1 payment per 1,117 people

The Garden State had less than half the malpractice payments of California, but when you factor in the population, it’s the Garden State that has the worst rate. In addition to its 1,117 malpractice payments, doctors in New Jersey also faced 8,506 adverse actions of the time span from 2003-2013.

Population: 12.77 million

Malpractice payments (2003-2013): 11,860

Rate: 1 payment per 1,077 people

Pennsylvania and New Jersey are often economic competitors, and at least when it comes to malpractice, Pennsylvania has the worst business climate. Pennsylvania has 15,552 doctors. They were subject to 12,292 adverse actions from 2003-2013.

Population: 19.65 million

Malpractice payments (2003-2013): 21,855

Rate: 1 payment per 899 people

The Empire State is by far the king of malpractice payments. Not only does the state have the highest number of payments (by a margin of 5,000), it also has the highest rate. Nearly 22,000 doctors practice there. In addition to the malpractice payments, those doctors faced 10,188 adverse actions between 2003 and 2013.