Communication Issues Can Lead to Malpractice Claims

By David Troxel, MD

In almost half of the medical malpractice claims against orthopedists, patients allege improper performance of surgery. However, this claim is made most often because the outcome differs from the patient’s expectation —not because of substandard care. The majority of these claims are related to known risks that were disclosed to the patient prior to the procedure, underscoring the importance of effective informed consent conversations that help patients fully understand the risks of the procedures they are undergoing.

This was one of the key findings in a recent analysis of 1,895 claims against more than 2,100 orthopedists by The Doctors Company, a physician-owned medical malpractice insurer. The analysis examined claims that closed between 2007 and 2014 to give orthopedists a better understanding of what motivates a patient to pursue a claim. It also presents a broader overview of the system failures and processes that result in patient harm.



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