A recent review by the largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer in the United States of 429 cardiology medical malpractice claims that closed between 2007 and 2013 found that allegations of diagnosis failure (the failure to diagnose, the delay in diagnosis, and/or the wrong diagnosis) were made in 25% of the claims.
Patient assessment issues included the failure or delay in ordering diagnostic tests, establishing a differential diagnosis, considering available clinical information, and addressing abnormal findings from echocardiograms, EKGs, vital signs, and lab results, etc.
The conditions most frequently alleged in the failure to diagnose claims included pulmonary embolism with infarction, carcinoma of the lung, acute myocardial infarction, coronary artery atherosclerosis, puncture or laceration during a procedure, and aortic dissection.
Allegations of improper management of treatment were made in 14% of the claims and included claims that patients suffered cardiac arrest during an intervention for cardiac tamponade or pericardial effusion, and the appropriateness of ordering stress tests for patients who suffered cardiac arrest during the procedure.
Allegations of improper performance of treatment or procedure were made in 12% of the claims and included hematomas, retroperitoneal bleeding, cardiac tamponade, punctured external iliac artery, aortic laceration from cardiac catheterization, and esophageal perforation during transesophageal echocardiogram.
Allegations of improper performance of surgery were made in 11% of the claims and included arterial injury during mitral valve repair, incorrectly placed leads and infections from pacemaker implantation, cardiac damage during ablations resulting in the need for a pacemaker, cardiac tamponade, and retroperitoneal bleeding from arterial punctures during coronary catheterization with stent placement.
Allegations of improper medication management were made in 6% of the claims and included improperly monitoring and managing anticoagulants leading to stroke, retroperitoneal bleeding with exsanguination, and lower extremity compartment syndrome.
The review found that the top six factors contributing to patient injury were patient assessment issues (25%), technical performance (21%), patient factors (20%), selection and management of therapy (18%), communication among providers (15%), and communication between patient/family and provider (14%).
The medical malpractice insurance company that conducted the study of its closed cardiology medical malpractice claims stated that its goal in conducting the review was to alert physicians to the most common risks of cardiology practice so that the insights will lead to system and process improvements that contribute to patient safety.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injury (or worse) during or after a cardiac procedure, the injury, unexpected result, or adverse event may have been caused by medical negligence by the cardiologist or some other medical provider involved in your care. Therefore, if you suspect that medical negligence may have caused or contributed to your bad outcome from a cardiac procedure, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigation your possible medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.