Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Missed diagnoses and drug errors make up bulk of primary care malpractice claims

Date:
July 19, 2013
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Missed diagnoses -- particularly of cancer, heart attack, and meningitis -- and drug errors make up the bulk of malpractice claims brought against doctors in primary care, finds a new analysis.

Missed diagnoses―particularly of cancer, heart attack, and meningitis―and drug errors make up the bulk of malpractice claims brought against doctors in primary care, finds an analysis of published data in the online journal BMJ Open.

Related Articles


The risk of litigation has not been given a great deal of attention in primary care, say the authors. But with most healthcare contacts taking place in primary care, it is important to characterise the causes and types of claims arising from these encounters, they add.

They carried out an extensive trawl of published research in English about the number and causes of malpractice claims in primary care in April 2012 and again in January 2013.

Out of a total of 7152 studies, 34 were eligible for inclusion in the analysis. Fifteen studies were based in the US, nine in the UK, seven in Australia, two in France, and one in Canada.

In the US, studies indicate that malpractice claims brought against primary care doctors accounted for between 7.6% and 16% of the total. In the UK, GPs made up the greatest proportion of an overall 20% increase in claims between 2009 and 2010, with claims against them more than doubling between 1994 and 1999.

And in Australia, GPs accounted for the highest proportion of claims and the highest number of new claims on the national Medical Indemnity National Collection database for both 2009 and 2010.

Missed diagnoses were the most common source of malpractice claims, accounting for between a quarter (26%) and almost two thirds (63%) of the total. And the most common consequence of this in the claims filed was death, ranging from 15% to 48% of claims made for missed diagnoses.

Among adults, cancer and heart attack were the most commonly missed diagnoses in the claims made. Others that cropped up frequently included appendicitis, ectopic pregnancy, and fractures. Among children, the most frequent claims related to meningitis and cancers.

The second most common sources of malpractice claims were drug errors, the proportion of which ranged from 5.6% to 20% across all the studies.

A substantial proportion of claims were unsuccessful, with only one third of US claims and half of UK claims ending up in a pay-out. But while the number of claims brought against US doctors has remained fairly stable over the past two decades, those brought against Australian and UK GPs have been rising.

The authors acknowledge that it may be difficult to generalise their findings as the term 'primary care' does not mean the same thing in all the countries studied, and none of the healthcare systems is the same. Using legal claims as a proxy for adverse events also has its limitations, they add.

But they point out that the threat of litigation can result in "defensive medicine" and over diagnosis and treatment, and that doctors who find themselves on the end of a malpractice claim, often find the process very distressing.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. Wallace, J. Lowry, S. M. Smith, T. Fahey. The epidemiology of malpractice claims in primary care: a systematic review. BMJ Open, 2013; 3 (7): e002929 DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002929

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Missed diagnoses and drug errors make up bulk of primary care malpractice claims." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130719085154.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2013, July 19). Missed diagnoses and drug errors make up bulk of primary care malpractice claims. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130719085154.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Missed diagnoses and drug errors make up bulk of primary care malpractice claims." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130719085154.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins