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Title: Nature of Medical Malpractice Claims Against Radiation Oncologists

Abstract

Purpose: To examine characteristics of medical malpractice claims involving radiation oncologists closed during a 10-year period. Methods and Materials: Malpractice claims filed against radiation oncologists from 2003 to 2012 collected by a nationwide liability insurance trade association were analyzed. Outcomes included the nature of claims and indemnity payments, including associated presenting diagnoses, procedures, alleged medical errors, and injury severity. We compared the likelihood of a claim resulting in payment in relation to injury severity categories (death as referent) using binomial logistic regression. Results: There were 362 closed claims involving radiation oncology, 102 (28%) of which were paid, resulting in $38 million in indemnity payments. The most common alleged errors included “improper performance” (38% of closed claims, 18% were paid; 29% [$11 million] of total indemnity), “errors in diagnosis” (25% of closed claims, 46% were paid; 44% [$17 million] of total indemnity), and “no medical misadventure” (14% of closed claims, 8% were paid; less than 1% [$148,000] of total indemnity). Another physician was named in 32% of claims, and consent issues/breach of contract were cited in 18%. Claims for injury resulting in death represented 39% of closed claims and 25% of total indemnity. “Improper performance” was the primary alleged error associatedmore » with injury resulting in death. Compared with claims involving death, major temporary injury (odds ratio [OR] 2.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.29-5.85, P=.009), significant permanent injury (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.48-6.46, P=.003), and major permanent injury (OR 5.5, 95% CI 1.89-16.15, P=.002) had a higher likelihood of a claim resulting in indemnity payment. Conclusions: Improper performance was the most common alleged malpractice error. Claims involving significant or major injury were more likely to be paid than those involving death. Insights into the nature of liability claims against radiation oncologists may help direct efforts to improve quality of care and minimize the risk of being sued.« less

Authors:
;  [1];  [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [1]
  1. Department of Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California (United States)
  2. (United States)
  3. Department of Radiation Oncology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (United States)
  4. Department of Radiation Oncology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22649903
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics; Journal Volume: 98; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2017 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
62 RADIOLOGY AND NUCLEAR MEDICINE; DEATH; ERRORS; INJURIES; MEDICAL PERSONNEL; PERFORMANCE; RADIATION HAZARDS; RADIOTHERAPY

Citation Formats

Marshall, Deborah, Tringale, Kathryn, Connor, Michael, University of California Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine, California, Punglia, Rinaa, Recht, Abram, and Hattangadi-Gluth, Jona, E-mail: jhattangadi@ucsd.edu. Nature of Medical Malpractice Claims Against Radiation Oncologists. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1016/J.IJROBP.2017.01.022.
Marshall, Deborah, Tringale, Kathryn, Connor, Michael, University of California Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine, California, Punglia, Rinaa, Recht, Abram, & Hattangadi-Gluth, Jona, E-mail: jhattangadi@ucsd.edu. Nature of Medical Malpractice Claims Against Radiation Oncologists. United States. doi:10.1016/J.IJROBP.2017.01.022.
Marshall, Deborah, Tringale, Kathryn, Connor, Michael, University of California Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine, California, Punglia, Rinaa, Recht, Abram, and Hattangadi-Gluth, Jona, E-mail: jhattangadi@ucsd.edu. 2017. "Nature of Medical Malpractice Claims Against Radiation Oncologists". United States. doi:10.1016/J.IJROBP.2017.01.022.
@article{osti_22649903,
title = {Nature of Medical Malpractice Claims Against Radiation Oncologists},
author = {Marshall, Deborah and Tringale, Kathryn and Connor, Michael and University of California Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine, California and Punglia, Rinaa and Recht, Abram and Hattangadi-Gluth, Jona, E-mail: jhattangadi@ucsd.edu},
abstractNote = {Purpose: To examine characteristics of medical malpractice claims involving radiation oncologists closed during a 10-year period. Methods and Materials: Malpractice claims filed against radiation oncologists from 2003 to 2012 collected by a nationwide liability insurance trade association were analyzed. Outcomes included the nature of claims and indemnity payments, including associated presenting diagnoses, procedures, alleged medical errors, and injury severity. We compared the likelihood of a claim resulting in payment in relation to injury severity categories (death as referent) using binomial logistic regression. Results: There were 362 closed claims involving radiation oncology, 102 (28%) of which were paid, resulting in $38 million in indemnity payments. The most common alleged errors included “improper performance” (38% of closed claims, 18% were paid; 29% [$11 million] of total indemnity), “errors in diagnosis” (25% of closed claims, 46% were paid; 44% [$17 million] of total indemnity), and “no medical misadventure” (14% of closed claims, 8% were paid; less than 1% [$148,000] of total indemnity). Another physician was named in 32% of claims, and consent issues/breach of contract were cited in 18%. Claims for injury resulting in death represented 39% of closed claims and 25% of total indemnity. “Improper performance” was the primary alleged error associated with injury resulting in death. Compared with claims involving death, major temporary injury (odds ratio [OR] 2.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.29-5.85, P=.009), significant permanent injury (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.48-6.46, P=.003), and major permanent injury (OR 5.5, 95% CI 1.89-16.15, P=.002) had a higher likelihood of a claim resulting in indemnity payment. Conclusions: Improper performance was the most common alleged malpractice error. Claims involving significant or major injury were more likely to be paid than those involving death. Insights into the nature of liability claims against radiation oncologists may help direct efforts to improve quality of care and minimize the risk of being sued.},
doi = {10.1016/J.IJROBP.2017.01.022},
journal = {International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics},
number = 1,
volume = 98,
place = {United States},
year = 2017,
month = 5
}
  • Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine trends in radiation oncology malpractice claims and expenses during the last 28 years and to compare radiation oncology malpractice claims to those of other specialties. Methods and Materials: We performed a retrospective analysis of closed malpractice claims filed from 1985 to 2012, collected by a nationwide medical liability insurance trade association. We analyzed characteristics and trends among closed claims, indemnity payments (payments to plaintiff), and litigation expenses. We also compared radiation oncology malpractice claims to those of 21 other medical specialties. Time series dollar amounts were adjusted for inflation (2012 was themore » index year). Results: There were 1517 closed claims involving radiation oncology, of which 342 (22.5%) were paid. Average and median indemnity payments were $276,792 and $122,500, respectively, ranking fifth and eighth, respectively, among the 22 specialty groups. Linear regression modeling of time trends showed decreasing total numbers of claims (β = −1.96 annually, P=.003), increasing average litigation expenses paid (β = +$1472 annually, P≤.001), and no significant changes in average indemnity payments (β = −$681, P=.89). Conclusions: Medical professional liability claims filed against radiation oncologists are not common and have declined in recent years. However, indemnity payments in radiation oncology are large relative to those of many other specialties. In recent years, the average indemnity payment has been stable, whereas litigation expenses have increased.« less
  • Purpose: To evaluate the actual work environment of radiation oncologists (ROs) in Japan in terms of working pattern, patient load, and quality of cancer care based on the relative time spent on patient care. Methods and Materials: In 2008, the Japanese Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology produced a questionnaire for a national structure survey of radiation oncology in 2007. Data for full-time ROs were crosschecked with data for part-time ROs by using their identification data. Data of 954 ROs were analyzed. The relative practice index for patients was calculated as the relative value of care time per patient onmore » the basis of Japanese Blue Book guidelines (200 patients per RO). Results: The working patterns of RO varied widely among facility categories. ROs working mainly at university hospitals treated 189.2 patients per year on average, with those working in university hospitals and their affiliated facilities treating 249.1 and those working in university hospitals only treating 144.0 patients per year on average. The corresponding data were 256.6 for cancer centers and 176.6 for other facilities. Geographically, the mean annual number of patients per RO per quarter was significantly associated with population size, varying from 143.1 to 203.4 (p < 0.0001). There were also significant differences in the average practice index for patients by ROs working mainly in university hospitals between those in main and affiliated facilities (1.07 vs 0.71: p < 0.0001). Conclusions: ROs working in university hospitals and their affiliated facilities treated more patients than the other ROs. In terms of patient care time only, the quality of cancer care in affiliated facilities might be worse than that in university hospitals. Under the current national medical system, working patterns of ROs of academic facilities in Japan appear to be problematic for fostering true specialization of radiation oncologists.« less
  • Purpose: To analyze error disclosure attitudes of radiation oncologists and to correlate error disclosure beliefs with survey-assessed disclosure behavior. Methods and Materials: With institutional review board exemption, an anonymous online survey was devised. An email invitation was sent to radiation oncologists (American Society for Radiation Oncology [ASTRO] gold medal winners, program directors and chair persons of academic institutions, and former ASTRO lecturers) and residents. A disclosure score was calculated based on the number or full, partial, or no disclosure responses chosen to the vignette-based questions, and correlation was attempted with attitudes toward error disclosure. Results: The survey received 176 responses:more » 94.8% of respondents considered themselves more likely to disclose in the setting of a serious medical error; 72.7% of respondents did not feel it mattered who was responsible for the error in deciding to disclose, and 3.9% felt more likely to disclose if someone else was responsible; 38.0% of respondents felt that disclosure increased the likelihood of a lawsuit, and 32.4% felt disclosure decreased the likelihood of lawsuit; 71.6% of respondents felt near misses should not be disclosed; 51.7% thought that minor errors should not be disclosed; 64.7% viewed disclosure as an opportunity for forgiveness from the patient; and 44.6% considered the patient's level of confidence in them to be a factor in disclosure. For a scenario that could be considerable, a non-harmful error, 78.9% of respondents would not contact the family. Respondents with high disclosure scores were more likely to feel that disclosure was an opportunity for forgiveness (P=.003) and to have never seen major medical errors (P=.004). Conclusions: The surveyed radiation oncologists chose to respond with full disclosure at a high rate, although ideal disclosure practices were not uniformly adhered to beyond the initial decision to disclose the occurrence of the error.« less