From the Journals

Dermatologists paying for errors during procedures



For dermatologists, improper performance of a procedure is the most common medical error resulting in paid liability claims, according to a review of over 90,000 lawsuits filed from 2006 to 2015.

Data from the Physician Insurers Association of America Data Sharing Project registry show that dermatologists paid 102 claims for errors that occurred during a procedure over that period. Misdiagnosis, with 62 payments, was the next most common reason, followed by medication errors (23 payments). Failure to supervise or monitor case, failure to instruct or communicate with patients, and failure to recognize a complication of treatment each had 15 payments, Heather Kornmehl and her associates reported (JAMA Dermatol. 2017 Dec 6. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.3713).

Top 10 reasons for dermatology liability payments, 2006-2015
The order varied somewhat by total amount paid, however, with errors in diagnosis the highest, at $29 million. Improper performance of procedures was second, at $13.1 million; medication errors were third, at almost $5.4 million; and failure to recognize a complication of treatment was fourth, at $4.5 million, they said.

From 2006 to 2015, the total cost of the 281 claims paid by dermatologists was $71.8 million, and dermatologists were involved in 1,084 (1.2%) of the 90,743 closed claims against physicians in all specialties, said Ms. Kornwehl, who is a medical student at Drexel University, Philadelphia, and her associates.

Closed claims include any lawsuit that is subsequently abandoned, withdrawn, or dismissed; is settled; or goes to trial and results in a verdict.

One of Ms. Kornmehl’s coinvestigators has served as an investigator and/or advisor to a number of companies. No other disclosures were reported.

SOURCE: Kornmehl H et al. JAMA Dermatol. 2017 Dec 6. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.3713

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