Failures in testing processes account for over 50% of diagnosis-related claims

Failures in ordering, performing, receiving/transmitting and interpreting test results accounted for over half of diagnosis-related malpractice claims, according to a report published by Coverys, a medical liability insurance company.

The report analyzed the causes of diagnosis-related claims based on an analysis of 10,618 closed medical professional liability claims at Coverys from 2013-17.

Here are four findings from the report. 

1. Diagnosis-related events accounted for 33 percent of medical professional liability claims and 47 percent of indemnity payments.

2. Out of the 3,466 closed claims with diagnosis-related allegations during the report's five-year period, claims involving cancer were the most prevalent (27 percent), followed by infections (13 percent), cardiac/vascular conditions (8 percent), fractures/dislocations (5 percent) and myocardial infarctions (4 percent).

3. The report revealed most diagnostic errors take place in outpatient settings, with 35 percent of diagnostic errors occurring in non-emergency department outpatient settings, such as physicians' offices or clinics. Twenty-four percent of diagnosis-related claims took place in the ED and urgent care facilities.

4. When examining claims by provider type, the majority of diagnosis-related claims came from general medicine (24 percent) and hospital/facility-related claims (19 percent), followed by radiology (14 percent), medical subspecialties such as neurology and gastroenterology (11 percent) and emergency medicine (11 percent).

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