Thirty-five percent of the interventional radiology malpractice cases involved vascular procedures and 26 percent of overall malpractice cases that went to trial resulted in plaintiff judgments with the average award being over $2 million.
Vascular procedures and biopsy procedures accounted for the majority of malpractice claims against interventional radiologists, according to a new analysis of cases from national legal databases.
For the analysis, recently published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, researchers reviewed 93 malpractice cases involving claims of negligence for interventional radiology (IR). Medical malpractice claims were levied against an individual interventional radiologist in 46 percent of the cases and included the radiologist’s affiliated institution in 43 percent of cases, according to the study.
“Due to the referral-based and procedural nature of IR along with the focus on longitudinal care, IRs face unique challenges and considerations when facing medical malpractice claims,” wrote lead study author Ajay Malhotra, M.D., MMM, a professor in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the Yale School of Medicine, and colleagues. “Additionally, IRs frequently treat the sickest patients in the hospital, including those who are unfit for surgery, and some IR procedures involve the off-label use of devices, which can increase the risk of being named in medical malpractice claims.”
Here are seven pertinent takeaways from the study.
1. Vascular procedures accounted for 35 percent of IR-related malpractice cases with embolization procedures accounting for 30 percent of these cases.
2. Fifty-six percent of cases occurred in an outpatient setting and only 4 percent occurred in emergency settings.
3. Eighteen percent of cases involved failure to get informed consent from patients.
4. Seventy-four percent of malpractice cases that went to trial resulted in defendant judgments.
5. The average plaintiff judgment in IR-related malpractice cases ($2,012,243) was over five times higher than the average plaintiff judgment for physicians ($371,054) reported from a national physician database.
6. Out of the 47 health-care institutions involved in the malpractice cases, 40 percent were privately owned non-profit hospitals and 17 percent were teaching hospitals affiliated with universities.
7. Twenty-six percent of malpractice cases involved IR performance of biopsy procedures.
“These results demonstrate that even traditionally less invasive and complex procedures like biopsies can lead to a number of claims involving IRs due to procedural errors leading to complications,” noted Malhota and colleagues. “Additionally, this study also identified failure to obtain appropriate informed consent as an important cause of medical malpractice claims, which can be corrected by the development of institutional guidelines for obtaining consent and appropriate training of physicians in the consent taking process.”
(Editor’s note: For related content, see “What to Do When Facing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit.”)