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Are male doctors more likely to be sued than female doctors?

The medical field was dominated by men for centuries. Fortunately, women in the U.S. are increasingly becoming doctors, closing this gender gap. Despite this positive trend, male doctors are much more likely to be sued for medical malpractice, according to a new study out of the U.K.

The study finds that male doctors around the world are 2.5 times as likely to be sued for medical malpractice or have similar legal action taken against them as their female colleagues. Men have long been sued for malpractice more often than women, but in the past a common explanation has been that there simply were more male than female doctors.

But even as the gender gap has continued to close over the past 15 years, the lawsuit gap has remained steady, according to Medscape. So that explanation no longer makes sense, the U.K. study suggests.

In fact, the authors did not give a possible reason for the disparity. One possible explanation could be that male physicians work longer hours and thus treat more patients than female doctors. The study suggests that this theory needs more research to test its validity.

Even given differences in the number of male and female physicians, and possible differences in work hours, it seems unlikely that male doctors are 2.5 times more incompetent than their female counterparts. Could it be that patients of male doctors are somehow more likely to take legal action? Obviously, more research is necessary.

Meanwhile, doctors of either sex can find themselves the target of litigation, even when they did nothing wrong. That is when they need an attorney to help them defend themselves.

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