Medical Malpractice in Gastroenterology

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Abstract

Background & Aims:

Gastroenterologists commonly perceive themselves to be at increased legal risk because they perform invasive procedures. However, there is little published information about gastroenterology (GI) malpractice claims. The goal of this study was to evaluate available malpractice claim data within GI.

Methods:

This study was a database analysis of GI claims submitted by insurance companies to the Physician Insurers Association of America Data Sharing Project from January 1, 1985, to December 31, 2005. Another analysis from 2005 compared GI claims with other subspecialties.

Results:

Sixty-six percent of physicians involved in claims had previous claims experience. The most common reasons for claims were errors in diagnosis (28%) and improper performance of a procedure (25%). Seventy-two percent of reported closed claims were settled out of court. Of 12,367 total claims in 2005, only 233 (1.8%) were within GI. GI ranked below other procedurally based subspecialties in numbers of claims per physician.

Conclusions:

GI does not rank highly among subspecialties in malpractice claims and only a minority of claims are procedure-related. Physicians with claims experience are likely to have further claims against them and should consider evaluating their practices.

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