A Retrospective Analysis of Malpractice-Related Procedure Rates for Internal Medicine Specialists at an Academic Medical Center

Link to article at PubMed

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021 Aug 6:S1553-7250(21)00192-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2021.08.001. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Although malpractice litigation is common in the United States, the risk of a malpractice claim for procedures performed by internal medical practitioners is unknown. This study determined the frequency of malpractice claims related to procedures in a large department of medicine at an academic medical center over a five-year period.

METHODS: Researchers retrospectively reviewed all malpractice claims and procedures performed by internal medicine practitioners of all specialties between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2019, in a department of medicine at a large academic medical center. A list of all procedures and Current Procedural Terminology codes performed by internal medicine practitioners was compiled. Active procedure-related malpractice claims and the total number of procedures performed during the study period were counted.

RESULTS: During the study period, 353,661 procedures were performed by internal medicine practitioners. During the same period, 76 active malpractice claims were identified, of which only 13 (17.1%) were procedure-related. For 2 different malpractice claims, a single patient had 2 procedures; thus 13 total claims related to the performance of 15 procedures. The proportion of procedure-related claims per total number of procedures performed was 0.37 claims/10,000 cases. The frequency of procedure-related malpractice claims per number of procedures performed ranged from 1 in 38 for pulmonary artery thrombolytic therapy to 1 in 137,325 for colonoscopy.

CONCLUSION: Procedure-related malpractice claims against internal medicine practitioners at a large academic medical center over a five-year period were infrequent despite significant procedural volume. Contextualizing procedure-related malpractice claims in terms of procedure-specific volume reframes the reporting of malpractice risk.

PMID:34456152 | DOI:10.1016/j.jcjq.2021.08.001

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