Characteristics of medical professional liability claims in patients with cardiovascular diseases

William J Oetgen, P Divya Parikh, Joseph G Cacchione, Paul N Casale, James T Dove, John G Harold, Brenda L Hindle, Michael Maglaras, George P Rodgers, Janet S Wright
American Journal of Cardiology 2010 March 1, 105 (5): 745-52
This report presents data describing a large cohort of closed cardiovascular medical professional liability (MPL) claims. The Physician Insurers Association of America established a registry of closed MPL claims in 1985. This registry contains data describing 230,624 closed claims for 28 medical specialties through 2007. The registry is maintained to support educational programs designed to improve the quality of care and to reduce patient injury and MPL claims. In this report, descriptive techniques are used to present summary information for the medical cardiovascular claims in the registry. Of 230,624 closed claims, 4,248 (1.8%) involved cardiovascular medical physicians. Of the 4,248 closed cardiovascular medical claims, 770 (18%) resulted in indemnity payments, and the average indemnity payment was $248,291. In the entire database, 30% of closed claims were paid, and the average indemnity payment was $204,268. The most common allegation among cardiovascular closed claims was diagnostic error, and the most prevalent diagnosis was coronary atherosclerosis. Claims involving cardiac catheterization and coronary angioplasty represented 12% and 7% of the cardiovascular closed claims. Aortic aneurysms and dissections, although relatively infrequent as clinical events, represent a substantial MPL risk because of the high percentage of paid claims (30%) and the very high average indemnity payment of $417,298. In conclusion, MPL issues are common and are important to all practicing cardiologists. Detailed knowledge of risks associated with liability claims should assist practicing cardiologists in improving the quality of care, reducing patient injury, and reducing the incidence of claims.

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