Malpractice awards are getting higher and higher for physicians and hospitals nationwide, Medscape reported Feb. 2.

In the U.S., there were 57 medical malpractice verdicts of $10 million or more during 2023. More than half of those verdicts hit $25 million or more, according to TransRe, an international reinsurance company that tracks large verdicts.

“2023 blew away every record previously set among high medical malpractice verdicts,” Richard Henderson, senior vice president for TransRe, told Medscape. “If we look at the 50 largest verdicts in 2023 and average them out, we have a higher monetary amount than any other year.”

So why are these expensive malpractice verdicts becoming so common?

Robert White Jr., president of TDC Group and the Doctors Company, a national medical liability insurer for physicians, told Medscape that a rollback of tort reforms could be a factor.

The majority of malpractice cases are settled or dropped before trial, and the claims that do end up before a jury typically go in the physician’s favor, according to Medscape. However, a cycle can be created where plaintiffs’ attorneys seek higher and higher settlement payouts based on past verdicts. 

Though these multimillion-dollar verdicts are definitely eye catching, they typically get reduced on appeal. 

There is no one cause behind the rise in hefty malpractice verdicts. Medscape mentions some possible reasons, including, “people emerged from the pandemic angrier” or plaintiffs’ attorneys letting “loose with high-demand claims when courts returned to normal” after the COVID-19 pandemic.