Chiropractic Malpractice

I was talking to someone about my malpractice insurance for my San Diego Chiropractic office. It is that time of year to renew. I am paying $1700 for the year. I checked online at Washington University‘s website and they said that the average malpractice insurance for an M.D. is $20,572 per year.

I think that pretty much refutes any concerns people have about the safety of chiropractic. I mean come on, no matter how you slice it, how can chiropractors be charged 5% per year of the amount M.D.’s are if chiropractic is dangerous.

I am sure the nay sayers will say that the reason for this is that surgeons and OBGYN’s get sued a lot more because what they do is dangerous. So I looked and found that midwives malpractice insurance cost around $7,000 to $32,000 per year. According the the same website it said that midwives are about as safe as M.D.’s in delivering babies. From my own experience I wonder if midwives are actually safer than M.D.’s?

OBGYN’s malpractice rates are listed as $17,000 to over $200,000 dollars. So obviously that is going to throw off the curve. The U.S. department of labor states that around 5% of M.D.’s are OBGYN’s.

So if we do a little math, we can derive more data. Forgive me but I am going to round the numbers to make the math easy for me and you!

Let us assume 100 doctors whose average premium is around $20,000 each for total premiums paid for the year of $2,000,000. The we can subtract the 5 out of the 100 OBGYN’s premiums of $200,000 each for a total of $1,000,000. That is attributing a huge part of the total to the OBGYN’s.

That leaves a million dollars in premiums to be atributed to the other 95 non OBGYN doctors. That leaves over $10,000 per year in premiums to be paid per year by the other docs.

There are other variables of course such as Emergency Room doctors getting sued more.

One doctor who works in the Emergency Roon states that he pays $50,000 per year for insurance. If we do the math as done above for OBGYN’s for the E.R. docs and assume that 5% of the M.D.’s are E.R. docs, then that takes it down to around $8,333 for all the non E.R. and OBGYN  docs.

That means the average doctor who does not work in the E.R. or deliver babies has a malpractice rate of over Four times the amount of my malpractice insurance. That was with me assuming the things that make the average M.D.’s malpractice much lower than it probably is.

Studies now show that drugs prescribed by your M.D. (even on the U.S. FDA site), are either the top, number 4, or number 6 cause of death in the U.S.

So compared to my $1,700 in insurance premiums each year, it says an awful lot about what insurance companies think of the safety of chiropractic compared to M.D.’s

I would love to hear any other data you have that would flesh this out even more. If you are doctor, M.D. or chiropractor, and would like to share your malpractice costs, I would love hear them! Or as a consumer if you would like to comment, I would love to hear your opinion.

As always, this is not legal advice, or medical advice, ask your attorney or doctor depending on the subject before acting on any info you find on this site!

Comment away!

5 Comments

  1. I agree with your article 100 % Doc.
    A neurosurgeon friend of mine quit practice because his med mal carrier left the state and he had to seek another med mal carrier.
    They were going to charge him $360,000.00
    (three hundred sixty thousand) for only ONE YEAR of coverage (including “tail coverage”).

    I agree that, generally, the size of Med Mal insurance premiums tend to reflect how much danger of being sued there is…but, there are usually other factors as well, such as geographic location, procedures done, etc.

    Keep up the great blogging!
    ~Doc

  2. I underwrite chiropractic malpractice insurance, former nursing home malpractice & allied health medmal underwriter for Lloyds of London… and you are correct… chiropractors are, in general a very low risk class. I’ve written policies for less than $500.

    Of course, I’ve seen chiropractic malpractice claims as well… the 35 yr old male patient with shoulder pain after playing golf visits his chiro, gets adjusted/massaged, goes home & has a heart attack. Or the patient who visited her family chiropractic clinic for back pain and fatigue… The patients’ family sued both the chiropractor and the clinic for misdiagnosis… The patient had jaundice & subsequently died months later of pancreatic cancer. The DC recalled later, “yes, her skin did appear somewhat yellowish, I should have known”.

    Dr. Baker, you are correct about the other premium rate factors: jurisdiction, procedures & etc. However, there are lots of discounts available that most MDs / DCs / Risk Managers don’t know about, unless they work with a licensed insurance broker who only writes medmal policies.

    I would be happy to share any information you’d like about malpractice policies and premium rates.

    Let me know if I can help! – MedMalGal

  3. Doctor of medicine

    No one is saying that chiropractic work is dangerous. Its just ineffective, and does neither harm nor good.

  4. Dr Martin

    Another MD who says we are ineffective must not know what we do. Before you comment at least be educated on the subject. I have had many patients that have had surgery recommendations that have not required surgery after 6 weeks of treatment of manipulation and physical therapy. That’s right MDs PT is in our scope of practice and most good chiros utilize it through out the course treatment. I am willing to guess the MD that made this comment is no more than 2 hands and a prescription pad and not an orthopedic or neurourgeon. Those that see what we do respect our results because we keep alot of patients from having spine and shoulder surgery. When you speak you should read a journal article or two or have some knowledge on the subject not just blurt out non fact based opinions. If we want to start talking about what is effective and what is not don’t forget to mention that iatrogenic cause of death is in the top 3 killers in this country.

  5. April

    RE Doctor of Medicine:

    If that were the case, then why are so many of your former patients (patients from the allopathic medical community) coming to chiropractors for help because they are sick of pills and doctors who do NOT care!!!

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