Medical Malpractice Claims Within Cardiology from 2006 to 2015

Published:October 23, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2018.09.008
      With increasing healthcare costs and the high cost of spending driven by “defensive medicine,” shedding light on recent litigation trends is critical for understanding current tort patterns, especially in the field of cardiology, a specialty with higher rates of malpractice suits than average. Understanding the characteristics of these liability claims and common types of patient injuries can aid cardiologists in mitigating malpractice risk and better patient care. Thus, the objective of this study was to characterize current malpractice trends in the field of cardiology and common sources of patient injury. An analysis of malpractice litigation claims from 2006 to 2015 in cardiology was performed on a database of nationwide professional liability insurers, health systems, and community hospitals. Both the total number of claims and annual indemnity payments in cardiology have seen an overall increase from 2006 to 2015. Of the 1,538 claims observed, the leading allegations were improper medical treatment and diagnostic error. However, despite the large number of claims, most cardiology claims during this decade were either decreased, denied, or dismissed (68%) and the plurality of the remainder was settled outside of court (30%). In conclusion, from 2006 to 2015, rates of cardiology malpractice claims and amount paid in compensation have increased substantially in the United States. Further understanding of the characteristics of these lawsuits can aid cardiologists in avoiding common sources of injury to improve patient care.
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