Surgeons & Surgery Centers Especially Vulnerable to Malpractice Claims
Surgery is high risk. It is often said that there is no such thing as “minor surgery” because even a relatively minor procedure can so easily become complicated—or deadly. So the standards for professional performance are set extremely high. There is little room for error since the stakes are so great. And it is so apparent when the results are negative (even if the surgeon is not at fault).
Certain surgical specialties have a high likelihood of adverse outcomes. Many surgeries are performed on sicker patients or for conditions where no standard treatment is established. And the surgeon’ work is often performed in emergency, live-and-death situations.
Often there are no good therapeutic options available, so the surgery is undertaken to minimize the effects of a grim diagnosis. Here’s where the physician’s communication with the patient and family before surgery can prepare them for realistic expectations. It answers their questions and allays their fears that can otherwise lead to legal action later.
Death is always a possibility and is cited in about a third of all medical malpractice claims. But major permanent injury is at the root of at least half of all suits. Those who feel that they did not receive a clear understanding of what the surgery entailed, or their likelihood of a desirable result, were more likely to file complaints afterward.
Prepare for Malpractice Claims Before They Happen
It is well documented that by the age of 65, 75% of physicians in low-risk specialties have had malpractice claims made against them. But that figure jumps to 99% likelihood of malpractice claims for surgeons. That means, defending against malpractice claims is not a maybe proposition, but a virtual certainty at some point during a surgeon’s career.
Different surgical specialties have different levels of risk of malpractice suits. For instance, almost one in five neurosurgeons risk facing a malpractice claim each year. Other surgical specialties (although less risky) are still likely to bring a greater than one in ten chance of a claim filed against them in any given year. With those odds, no surgeon can afford to leave their risk management strategy to chance.
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