What's the No. 1 allegation in medical liability lawsuits?

May 1, 2006

The failure to diagnose. One study, by medical liability insurerProMutual Group, found that failure to diagnose was alleged inalmost 40% of closed claims analyzed in seven specialties between2002 and 2004. Among ob/gyns alone, 15% of medical liability casesinvolved a failure to diagnose claim. Moreover, undetected cancerwas the basis of 47% of such claims among all seven specialties.

The failure to diagnose. One study, by medical liability insurer ProMutual Group, found that failure to diagnose was alleged in almost 40% of closed claims analyzed in seven specialties between 2002 and 2004. Among ob/gyns alone, 15% of medical liability cases involved a failure to diagnose claim. Moreover, undetected cancer was the basis of 47% of such claims among all seven specialties.

The ProMutual Group study agrees with other national research. Lisa Bartholomew, research director of the Physician Insurers Association of America told American Medical News (3/20/06) that the failure to diagnose results in the highest number of claims filed against those in nonsurgical specialties. Likewise, other research has found that cancer was involved in the majority of misdiagnosis claims.

Because primary care physicians, including ob/gyns, are often the first clinicians patients seek for diagnosis, physicians need to take steps to minimize the risk of failure to diagnose claims. Among the relatively obvious but often overlooked strategies to follow: