A new study from The Doctors Company looks at orthopedic malpractice and why orthopedists get sued. The Doctors company is a physician-owned medical malpractice insurance company. The study looks at 1,895 malpractice claims against 2,100 orthopedists The Doctors company insured. The claims were closed between 2007-2014.
The study looked at both the most common allegations against orthopedists, as well as the most common factors contributing to patient injury. It found that the most common allegation by far was improper performance of surgery. The most common factor contributing to patient injury was a technical performance factor. Learn more, below.What are the most common orthopedic malpractice claims?
New Study Looks at Orthopedic Malpractice
What were the most common patient allegations?
The most common allegations patients made were improper performance of surgery, improper management of surgical patient, and diagnosis related.
46% - Improper Performance of Surgery
The majority of these allegations stemmed from the fact that the procedure’s outcome was different from the patient’s expectations. A small percentage were the result of substandard care. Some of the procedures included knee and hip replacements, as well as knee arthroscopy and vertebroplasty.
16% - Improper Management of Surgical Patient
These claims concerned allegedly negligent postoperative care. Allegations stemmed from infections, continued pain, and the bone not healing properly or at all.
13% - Diagnosis Related
The issue, such as a fracture or hematoma, may not have been diagnosed correctly, leading to an orthopedic malpractice claim.
What were the most common factors contributing to patient injury?
35% - Technical Performance
The orthopedist may have used poor technique resulting in injury, though injury was known to be a risk of the procedure. An anatomical structure may have been misidentified.
29% - Patient Factors
The orthopedist may not have adhered with the treatment plan, including follow-up calls/appointments, leading to injury.
12% - Selection and Management of Therapy
The orthopedist may not have ordered the most appropriate medication, or any medication at all.
12% - Communication Between Patient/Family and Provider
Communication barriers/lack of rapport between the two parties may have lead to a lack of communication resulting in injury.
12% - Patient Assessment Issues
The orthopedist may have made an error in diagnostic testing, failed to order tests, failed to respond to a patient’s concerns, failed to address abnormal findings, or failed to consider relevant information available in the patient’s medical record.