Medicolegal characteristics of cardiac catheterization litigation in the United States, 1985 to 2009

Candice Kim, Mladen I Vidovich
American Journal of Cardiology 2013 November 15, 112 (10): 1662-6
There are few assessments of patterns of medicolegal cases involving cardiac catheterizations. This descriptive study reviews the patterns of liability and medical outcomes involving cardiac catheterization litigation from the LexisNexis Academic database and the Physician Insurers Association of America registry. From 1985 to 2009, the Physician Insurers Association of America registry documented 1,361 closed coronary angiography claims. The cardiovascular disease specialty was involved in 699 with other specialties involved in the remaining cases. Of the 1,361 closed claims, 301 (22%) resulted in payments to the plaintiff (average indemnity of $230,987). The most common alleged error was for improper performance (35.4%; average indemnity of $255,542). The alleged error with the highest average indemnity of $270,916 was errors in diagnosis. Not performing an indicated procedure had the highest ratio of paid to closed claims (41%) with an average indemnity of $246,988. In regard to the severity of injury, death was the most common outcome (44%). The highest ratio of paid to total closed claims (43%) was for grave injuries (highest average indemnity of $555,625). Of the 116 LexisNexis cases, litigation against physicians occurred in 90.5% of cases with judgments in favor of the patients in 29.5%. When death was the outcome (31% of cases), physicians were highly likely to be sued (97%) and the judgment was more likely in the plaintiffs' favor (44%). In conclusion, in litigation related to cardiac catheterizations, most cases are due to medical malpractice and physicians are sued in a high percentage of cases. Cardiologists should recognize these patterns of litigation as these may impact and improve processes of care.

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