Oncologic Errors in Diagnostic Radiology: A 10-Year Analysis Based on Medical Malpractice Claims
Andrew B Rosenkrantz, Dana Siegal, Jillian A Skillings, Ada Muellner, Sharyl J Nass, Hedvig Hricak
J Am Coll Radiol . 2021 Sep;18(9):1310-1316. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2021.05.001. Epub 2021 May 28.
Purpose: To retrospectively analyze the nature and extent of oncology-related errors accounting for malpractice allegations in diagnostic radiology.
Methods: The Comparative Benchmarking System of the Controlled Risk Insurance Company, a database containing roughly 30% of medical malpractice claims in the United States, was searched retrospectively for the period 2008 to 2017. Claims naming radiology as a primary service were identified and were stratified and compared by oncologic versus nononcologic status, allegation type (diagnostic versus nondiagnostic), and imaging modality.
Results: Over the 10-year period, radiology was the primary responsible service for 3.9% of all malpractice claims (2,582 of 66,061) and 12.8% of claims with diagnostic allegations (1,756 of 13,695). Oncology (neoplasms) accounted for 44.0% of radiology cases with diagnostic allegations, a larger share than any other category of medical condition. Among radiology cases with diagnostic allegations, high-severity harm occurred in 79% of oncologic but just 42% of nononcologic cases. Of all oncologic radiology cases, 97.4% had diagnostic allegations, and just 55.0% of nononcologic radiology cases had diagnostic allegations. Imaging misinterpretation was a contributing factor for a large majority (80.7% [623 of 772]) of oncologic radiology cases with diagnostic allegations. The modalities most commonly used in oncologic radiology cases with diagnostic allegations involving misinterpretation were mammography and CT.
Conclusion: Oncology represents the largest source of radiology malpractice cases with diagnostic allegations. Oncologic radiology malpractice cases are more likely than nononcologic radiology cases to be due to diagnostic errors. Furthermore, compared with those that are nononcologic, oncologic radiology cases with diagnostic allegations are more likely to be associated with high-severity harm. Efforts are warranted to reduce misinterpretations of oncologic imaging.
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