Advanced Search

  • Topic
  • Specialty
  • Content Type


Also Related

< Back To Patient Safety
0 dislikes

< Hide

Comments For

Effective Practice: Where's the Risk?


< Shrink

Add Your Voice

All comments are posted anonymously. Your comment will be attributed to: "Anonymous user."

post comment


Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

Effective Practice: Where's the Risk?

By Jock Hoffman, CRICO

Related to: Ambulatory, Diagnosis, Emergency Medicine, Primary Care, Medication, Obstetrics, Other Specialties, Surgery

Where are patients most at risk for unintended harm: the OR, the ED, the MD's office? Whose risk of being involved in a preventable adverse event is greater: a primary caregiver, a radiologist, a neurosurgeon? Are technical errors more common or more costly than cognitive errors? What patient safety risks should you be most aware of for your particular specialty or setting? Where do you direct your attention?

Because malpractice is rare, personal experience with being named in a claim or suit is an inadequate indicator of the overall risks to patient safety. Even across a large health care facility (more than 100,000 annual inpatient days), spotting trends from malpractice data is inhibited by low frequency (<13 malpractice cases per year). Unfortunately, for both individual health care providers and the organizations in which they practice, identifying what to worry about—which risks to prioritize—is often daunting.

Aggregated malpractice data, however, can help focus the picture of the vulnerabilities. Based on in-depth coding of 11,500 malpractice claims filed from 2005–2009 against institutions who report to the CRICO/RMF Comparative Benchmarking System, we can gain an understanding of what prompted the patients (or families) to file lawsuits. For example, we know that in:

  • 67% of surgery-related cases, an error in technical skill is alleged;
  • 54% of missed or delayed diagnosis cases involve cancer diagnoses;
  • 22% of obstetrics-related cases involve hypoxia/birth asphyxia; and
  • 19% of medication-related cases involve an ordering error.

Drilling down even deeper into aggregated malpractice cases can help us further form hypotheses about local risks, but fine tuning your understanding of the current risks in your own setting demands timely information specific to your practice setting. Fortunately, every health care organization collects and reports on a wide variety of patient safety-related data. If you know where to look, you most likely have a treasure trove of information within reach. Not every organization provides all of these data sources—and some may generate others not listed—but you never know until you ask your risk manager or patient safety leaders.

When you do study and cross-reference these data, you are likely to have a much clearer picture of what—if anything—you should worry about.

Top Locales Cited in Malpractice

November 1, 2011
0 dislikes

< Back To Patient Safety