Vascular procedures are most frequent prompts for IR malpractice suits

Vascular procedures and biopsies are the most frequent reasons for malpractice lawsuits involving interventional radiologists (IRs), researchers have found.

The results shed light on an area of malpractice litigation that has not been well understood, wrote a team led by Amin Khan, MBBS, of Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT. The group's findings were published September 27 in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

"Due to the referral-based and procedural nature of IR along with the focus on longitudinal care, IRs face unique challenges and considerations when facing medical malpractice claims," the team wrote. "Additionally, IRs frequently treat the sickest patients in the hospital, including those who are unfit for surgery, and some IR procedures involve the off-label use of devices, which can increase the risk of being named in medical malpractice claims."

Khan and colleagues used data from two legal databases to search for cases in which there were jury awards and settlements involving U.S. interventional radiologists. Of a total of 389 published cases, the team included 93 which were prompted by negligence involving interventional radiology.

The authors found the following:

  • 46% of the cases involved medical malpractice allegations against an individual IR.
  • 43% involved medical malpractice allegations against an individual IR and a healthcare institution.
  • 35% of IR malpractice cases involved performance of a vascular procedure, with the most common being embolization procedures (30%), stenting/angioplasties (21%), and diagnostic arteriography/angiography (18%).
  • 26% of cases involved performance of a biopsy.
  • 18% of cases involved failure to gain informed consent and an allegation of medical negligence during treatment.
  • 11% (10/93) cases were resolved by settlement, with an average amount of $877,500.
  • Of 72 cases that went to trial, 74% resulted in a judgment for the defendant and 26% for the plaintiff, with an average award of $2 million.

"Although majority of published medical malpractice claims involving IRs resulted in judgment in favor of the defendant, the average amount awarded to the plaintiffs was higher compared to previous data reported for all physicians," the group reported.

The complete study can be found here.

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