The most common allegation in breast cancer claims was errors in diagnosis, according to a 2014 study from PIAA in Rockville, MD.
Diagnostic errors resulted in a payment 44% of the time. The total indemnity exceeded $220 million of the $297 million total paid out for all breast cancer claims during the study period.
Overall, 70% of claims reported to the PIAA closed with no indemnity payment, with a 30% paid-to-close ratio (the percentage of closed claims that resolved with a payment to the plaintiff).
From 2002-2011, a total of 2,157 closed claims naming female breast cancer were compiled in the PIAA Data Sharing Project (DSP), the world’s largest independent research database on malpractice litigation. With an average 33% paid-to-close ratio, breast cancer claims had the largest total indemnity payment, which was $297 million. The data come from the PIAA Breast Cancer Study, MPL Cancer Claims Miniseries: Volume 1.
Specialty-specific data were analyzed in terms of the average and largest indemnity payments made in breast cancer claims. An indemnity payment to a claimant includes an amount that might be deemed equivalent to the costs required for economic recovery and for damages incurred during the resolution of a claim. Claims were further characterized by noting the presence of one of 28 possible chief medical factors.
Radiologists were named as the top physician specialty for breast cancer claims, with mammography cited as the top procedure involved. Diagnostic errors ranked as the top alleged error associated with breast cancer, with a relatively high (44%) payment ratio. In more than half of the breast cancer claims (59%), patients presented with something other than breast cancer as their initial reason for the medical visit, but the resulting medical condition was breast cancer.
Five medical specialties were named in 87% of all medical professional liability (MPL) breast cancer claims stored in the DSP: radiologists, obstetric/gynecologic (OB/GYN) surgeons, internal medicine physicians, and general surgeons. The average indemnity paid for claims involving radiologists was $433,668. However, for OB/GYN surgeons, it was 2% higher: $443,458. Radiologists were named in 43% of the total of all closed claims, with a 39% paid-to-close ratio, and the highest total indemnity: more than $155 million. OB/GYN surgeons were associated with the second-highest number of closed claims: 16%. The ratio of paid-to-close claims was 29%; the total indemnity exceeded $44 million.
Although errors in diagnosis were linked with the highest reported number of closed claims (1,122), failure to supervise or monitor a case had the highest average indemnity, $519,417, followed by delay in performance, $487,321. The full breast cancer report is available for purchase on the PIAA web site at http://tinyurl.com/l9o6r2l.