Doctors Who Are More Likely To Make Repeated Medical Mistakes

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If your surgeon doesn’t treat you well personally, there’s a chance you may not receive quality medical treatment as well.

In a study published in the February 2017 issue of JAMA Surgery, researchers outlined their efforts to identify any connection between a surgeon’s bedside manner, for lack of a better term, and patient care.  The study established such a link.  The more patient complaints filed against a surgeon, researchers found that the more likely his or her patients were to experience complications.

Patient Complaints against Doctors

The study included patient complaints from seven teaching hospitals across the country that participates in two different patient care programs.  More than 32,000 patient records from 2011 and 2013 were involved.  Specifically, researchers examined “unsolicited patient observations” for surgeons.  All surgeons who had these patient comments within the previous 24 months were then investigated further.  A total of 817 surgeons were included.

The effort revealed that the more unsolicited patient observations a surgeon had, the more likely his or her patients suffered postoperative complications within a month of the procedure.

The average number of patient complaints per surgeon was 11.  The actual number of complaints, of course, varied widely between the surgeons.  The worst offenders – those in the top 25 percent of complaints – averaged 25 patient complaints in 24 months.  The bottom 25 percent averaged only 2 complaints.

And the rate of patient harm was markedly different between these two groups.  The top 25 percent of surgeons in terms of patient complaints had 14 percent more patients with complications than the bottom 25 percent.

So this study established that one group of physicians is more likely to make medical errors than others.  An unrelated study publicized earlier this year did the same but using a different marker.

Small Number of Physicians Responsible for $41 Billion in Med Mal Lawsuit Settlements

This effort uncovered that a remarkably small amount of physicians in this country are responsible for a large portion of medical malpractice lawsuit settlements.

This study, which was published on the website of Journal of Patient Safety, reviewed 25 years of records in the National Practitioner Data Bank.  The NPDB keeps track of medical malpractice payments for the federal government.

In the last 25 years about half of the total medical malpractice settlement payments were linked to just 2 percent of U.S. physicians.  The amount paid to the victims of medical errors from this group of doctors was about $41 billion.  The study also found that physicians responsible for higher medical malpractice settlements were more likely to have multiple settlements.

Even more disturbing is that the researchers found only a fraction of these repeat offenders faced any sort of disciplinary action from hospitals or licensing boards.

Physicians who make repeated serious errors can be identified, as these studies show.  They should be held accountable to their victims.

If you were seriously injured or lost a family member during medical care and you believe a mistake was made, turn to an experienced medical malpractice attorney to get your concerns investigated.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Authored by: Gray Ritter Graham posted in Medical Malpractice on February 24, 2017

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