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Efficacy, Education, Administration, Informatics

E1030. Fifteen Years of Jury Verdicts and Settlements in New York, Florida, and Illinois

Soni K,  Schweitzer M. Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY

Address correspondence to K. Soni (Kiran.Soni@stonybrookmedicine.edu)

Objective: In the field of radiology, previous studies analyzed the characteristics of all medical malpractice lawsuits that were filed regardless of whether they resulted in a payment to the patient. This study is the first to focus solely on radiology lawsuits that were filed and resulted in a payment to the patient.

Materials and Methods: A search was conducted in the Thomson-Reuters subscription database, Westlaw. Only jury verdicts and settlements that resulted in a payment to an adult patient by a radiologist, medical group, or hospital and decided between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2015 were included. There were a total of 65 jury verdicts and settlements that resulted in a payment to the patient: 15 for Illinois, 27 for New York, and 23 for Florida. Lawsuits were categorized as follows: failure to diagnose, procedural complications, interventional radiology, slip and fall, and failure to communicate. Lawsuits alleging failure to diagnose were categorized into breast cancer, lung cancer, cancer other than breast or lung cancer, and diagnosis other than cancer.

Results: Failure to diagnose not only accounts for the majority of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in radiology (61%) but also for the majority of lawsuits that result in a payment to a patient (78%). Within the category of failure to diagnose, breast cancer accounts for nearly the same percent of lawsuits filed (12%) as lung cancer (11%) or cancer other than breast or lung (15%). However, failure to diagnose breast cancer constitutes a much higher percent of lawsuits that result in a payment to the patient (42%). Across all previous studies, procedural complications constitute the second most common type of lawsuit filed (14%). However, compared to the large percent of lawsuits filed, procedural complications comprise only a small percent of lawsuits that result in a payment to the patient (8%). Along the same lines, slip and fall accounts for a small percent of lawsuits filed (6%) and an even smaller percent of lawsuits that result in a payment to the patient (2%). Finally, failure to communicate accounts for the same small percent of lawsuits that result in a payment to the patient (4%) as compared to the percent of lawsuits filed (4%).

Conclusion: The results of this study lead to the conclusion that patients enjoy greater litigation success when alleging failure to diagnose or failure to communicate than when alleging procedural complications or slip and fall. Within the category of failure to diagnose, patients enjoy the greatest litigation success when alleging failure to diagnose breast cancer. From the perspective of a lawyer deciding whether to file a particular type of lawsuit or a radiologist deciding whether to settle, these findings are significant.