A recent study conducted by The Doctors Company, the nation’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer, looked at emergency room medical malpractice injuries in 332 emergency medicine claims it closed from 2007-2013. The study provided statistics concerning the most common patient allegations in emergency medicine claims, as well as the top factors that contributed to patient injury in the emergency room. Read on to learn more about what the study found.
Emergency Room Medical Malpractice Statistics
Most Common Claims
Diagnosis Related - 57%
Far and away the most common reason for a claim was related to diagnosis. Allegations included failure to diagnose, incorrect or delayed diagnosis, or discharge too soon from the emergency room.
Improper Management of Treatment - 13%
Improper management of treatment in the emergency room accounted for 13% of medical malpractice claims. This included allegations of failure to explore an infected wound, and failure to stabilize the neck after a traumatic head injury.
Improper Performance of a Treatment or Procedure - 5%
Allegations of improper performance of a treatment or procedure included intubation, imaging/x-rays, and IV insertion.
Failure to Order Medication - 3%
Allegations of failure to order medication accounted for 3% of claims.
Most Common Factors Contributing to Injury
Patient Assessment-Related Issues - 52%
This included failures to order diagnostic tests, address abnormal findings, and consider available clinical information.
Patient Factors - 21%
Patients may have had physical characteristics such as obesity, that contributed to injury. Patient behaviors, such as a failure to adhere with a treatment plan, also fall into this category.
Communication Among Providers - 17%
Providers may have failed to communicate, review medical records, or may have simply had poor professional rapport that caused a disconnect in communication.
Communication Between the Patient and/or Family and Providers - 14%
Communication issues between providers, patients and their family stemmed from poor rapport, language barriers, and inadequate patient education of post-treatment recovery regimens.
Insufficient Documentation - 13%
Clinical findings, follow-up efforts, patient history, and advice given to patients over the phone, may not have been properly documented or documented at all.
Workflow/Workload - 12%
Staff and or services may have been limited on weekends, nights, and holidays, causing a shortage of resources.