Getting to the Root of Malpractice Claims

By Steve Barrett
Sunday, July 1, 2018

More malpractice claims are related to diagnosis than to any other single aspect of care, medical liability insurer Coverys found in an analysis of almost 11,000 closed claims from 2013 through 2017.

A third of claims and nearly half of indemnity payments have to do with diagnosis, the Boston-based company reports. An additional 24 percent of claims are surgery- and procedure-related, 14 percent have to do with medical management, and 9 percent are related to medication.

Among other key findings:

  • In a majority of claims linked to diagnosis, testing is the issue — whether ordering and performing tests or receiving, sending or interpreting the results.
  • For claims related to diagnosis, adverse events associated with cancer are more common than those associated with any other condition. In descending order, other conditions linked to a high prevalence of diagnosis-related claims are infection, cardiac or vascular conditions, fractures or dislocations, and myocardial infarction.
  • Diagnostic errors are more common in outpatient than in inpatient settings. More than a third of these errors take place in locations such as clinics or physician offices, and about a fourth happen in ER or urgent care settings.