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.

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 September 3, 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 September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Fear They're Losing Battle Against Ebola

Doctors Fear They're Losing Battle Against Ebola

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) As a third American missionary is confirmed to have contracted Ebola in Liberia, doctors on the ground in West Africa fear they're losing the battle against the outbreak. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tech Giants Bet on 3D Headsets for Gaming, Healthcare

Tech Giants Bet on 3D Headsets for Gaming, Healthcare

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) When Facebook acquired the virtual reality hardware developer Oculus VR in March for $2 billion, CEO Mark Zuckerberg hailed the firm's technology as "a new communication platform." Duration: 02:24 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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