A study of 1,438 closed malpractice claims* against plastic surgeons shows that claims are more likely to arise from complications that were known to the patient as a risk and that were discussed with the patient prior to surgery rather than resulting from substandard care. This latest analysis of allegations made by patients against plastic surgeons—and the factors that led to these claims—was produced by The Doctors Company, the nation’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer.
In the study, nearly half of all claims alleged improper performance of surgery (49 percent). Other allegations were improper management of surgical patient (13 percent), improper performance of treatment or procedure (12 percent), retained foreign body (6 percent), breach of confidentiality (4 percent), and failure to obtain consent (3 percent).
The study is based on claims that closed from January 2007 through June 2015. All claims were analyzed, regardless of their ultimate outcome. The research is unique compared with other studies of malpractice claims because it includes expert insights into the specific elements that led to the patient injury. Physician experts for both the plaintiff/patient and the defendant/physician reviewed claims and conducted medical record reviews. Clinical analysts then drew from these sources to gain an accurate and unbiased understanding of actual patient injuries. The top two factors that contributed to patient injury were technical performance (42 percent) and patient factors (41 percent).
The study also includes data on the most common patient injuries, injury severity, and rates of plastic surgery claims. Additionally, numerous examples of malpractice cases, insights from recent open claims, and risk mitigation strategies are also included.
Copies of the full study can be found at www.thedoctors.com/plasticsurgerystudy.
*A written notice, demand, lawsuit, arbitration proceeding, or screening panel in which a demand is made for money or a bill reduction and which alleges injury, disability, sickness, disease, or death of a patient arising from the physician’s rendering or failing to render professional services.
Robin Diamond earned her Master’s Degree in Nursing from Vanderbilt University. Ms. Robin Diamond has over 37 years of experience in health care administration, including nursing, quality, medical-legal consulting, and risk management. She has worked in the medical malpractice insurance industry for 16 years and now serves as Senior Vice President of Patient Safety and Risk Management at The Doctors Company.