Urological malpractice: analysis of indemnity and claim data from 1985 to 2007

Jonas S Benson, Christopher L Coogan
Journal of Urology 2010, 184 (3): 1086-90; quiz 1235

PURPOSE: The possibility of a medical malpractice lawsuit is present in the practice of modern day medicine. A basic knowledge of trends, monetary values and types of claims involved in urological litigation is beneficial to the practicing surgeon.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Cumulative analysis of claims data from 1985 to 2007 from more than 20 member companies of the Physician Insurers Association of America was performed. A total of 28 medical specialties are represented in 230,000 claims. An analysis of urological claims with regard to other specialties, trends, and most prevalent and types of procedures was performed.

RESULTS: Urology ranks 12th of 28 in the number of claims reported (5,577) and monies paid, totaling $285 million during 22 years. The average urology paid claim from 1985 to 2007 was $174,245, which is less than the average of all groups ($204,268). In 2007 the average indemnity paid was $227,838, which is an increase from $176,213 in 1997. The 2 most prevalent medical misadventures were improper performance and diagnostic errors, which accounted for 51% of all of the claims.

CONCLUSIONS: Urology tends to be at or below average compared to other medical specialties in regard to total claims, total monies paid and average monies paid during the last 23 years. From 1997 to 2007 the average indemnity paid increased by 23%. Improper performance, diagnostic errors and failure to monitor cases resulted in the most lawsuits. In those groups malignancy of the prostate, testis and kidney appeared consistently. Continued analysis and education on medical litigation in urology can aid in increased awareness and possibly improved care for patients in the future.

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