The most common medical misadventures resulting in malpractice claims in primary care are missed or delayed diagnoses and medication errors, according to a review published in BMJ Open.

Emma Wallace, MB, BAO, BCh, from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Medical School in Dublin, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to examine the epidemiology of malpractice claims in primary care. Thirty-four studies met the inclusion criteria: 28 presented data from medical indemnity malpractice claims databases and six presented survey data.

The researchers found that the most common medical misadventure resulting in claims was failure to or delay in diagnosis.

Continue Reading

Across studies, this represented 26% to 63% of all claims. In adults, common missed or delayed diagnoses included cancer and myocardial infarction, while in children they included meningitis.

The second commonest domain was medication errors, which represented 5.6% to 20% of all claims across studies. Across countries, the prevalence of malpractice claims in primary care varied. In the United States and Australia, general practice ranked in the top five specialties accounting for the most claims, compared with other disciplines, representing 7.6% to 20% of all claims. Most claims were successfully defended.

“This review of malpractice claims in primary care highlights diagnosis and medication error as areas to be prioritized in developing educational strategies and risk management systems,” the authors wrote.