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Study parses types of medical malpractice by internists

A recent study by a large medical insurer reports that 58 percent of medical negligence cases nationwide, including from Louisiana, that are brought against internists consist of high-severity types of patient injuries. The higher severity claims against other physicians comprise only about 34 percent of the medical malpractice claims against them. The authors of the study also concluded generally that physicians fail to diagnose and treat their patients properly due to a variety of reasons.

The study looked at nearly 1,200 malpractice claims against internists that occurred between 2007 and 2014. The claims themselves fell into three major categories. The first and most prevalent complaint was relating to an incorrect diagnosis, delay in rendering a diagnosis or the failure to diagnose. This group accounted for the highest percentage of high-severity injuries.

The second large category of complaints against internists dealt with claims of incorrect medical treatment. These could include the failure to order necessary tests, a feeling of something being wrong with the treatment and the failure of physician-patient communications. The third group is a body of complaints dealing with charges of using the wrong medication or in providing medications in the wrong dosage amount.  This group also includes the physician's failing to consider and take into account drug interactions when prescribing or administering a medication.

Researchers pointed out that occasionally medical providers will encounter a rare disease or medical condition that is not readily recognized or identified. That kind of error is not necessarily medical malpractice in Louisiana or other states, but when the physician misses the proper diagnosis on the most prevalent conditions examined regularly, the failure to diagnose can constitute medical malpractice if the failure results in an injury to the patient. Some of the common injuries reported by the researchers regarding medical claims are death, infections, malignant conditions and adverse drug reactions.

Source:, "Internists more likely to face malpractice lawsuits for high-severity injuries than other physicians", Emily Rappleye, Sept. 21, 2016

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