A study of closed malpractice claims involving more than 2,100 hospitalists shows that claims* arising from hospitalist care are more likely to have a higher injury severity than claims against other physician specialties. This latest analysis of allegations made by patients against hospitalists—and the factors that led to these claims—was produced by The Doctors Company, the nation’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer.
The study also shows that the vast majority of claims against hospitalists were diagnosis related (36%), involved improper management of treatment (31%), or were the result of a medication-related error (11%).
The study is based on 464 claims against hospitalists that closed from 2007 to 2014. All claims were studied regardless of their ultimate outcome.
The research is unique compared with other studies of malpractice claims because it includes expert insights into the specific elements that led to the patient injury. Findings by expert physician reviewers were consistent with the patients’ allegations—that their problems arose from incorrect or delayed diagnoses. Reviewers noted that 35% of the cases resulted from an inadequate initial assessment, consequently decreasing the chance that the hospitalist would arrive at the correct diagnosis.
The study also includes 15 examples of malpractice cases, lists the conditions that were most commonly involved in incorrect or delayed diagnoses, and provides risk-mitigation strategies.
“We hope that the information presented in this study will prompt physicians to collaborate with hospital leadership to identify system weaknesses, thereby reducing the risk of harm to patients,” says study co-author David B. Troxel, MD, medical director of the The Doctors Company.
Copies of the full study will be available at The Doctors Company’s exhibit space at HM16 or at www.thedoctors.com/hospitaliststudy.
*A written notice, demand, lawsuit, arbitration proceeding, or screening panel in which a demand is made for money or a bill reduction and that alleges injury, disability, sickness, disease, or death of a patient arising from the physician’s rendering or failing to render professional services.