Practitioner Data Bank:

Information on Small Medical Malpractice Payments

IMTEC-92-56: Published: Jul 7, 1992. Publicly Released: Aug 8, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) the range of malpractice payments reported to the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) National Practitioner Data Bank; and (2) the views of professional organizations on including small malpractice payments in the data bank.

GAO found that: (1) about 44 percent of malpractice payments are under $30,000, which is 4 percent of the $2 billion in total reported payments; (2) in reported malpractice payments under $30,000, over 80 percent of dentists' and pharmacists' payments were below the threshold, as opposed to 36 percent of physicians' payments; (3) 71 percent of reported malpractice payments result from settlements between parties; (4) many health care services and professional organizations believe reporting of small payments is burdensome and unnecessary; and (5) a single threshold for reporting may not be effective for managing malpractice payment data.

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