Study reveals facts about anesthesia-related medical malpractice claims

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A new study has analyzed anesthesia-related medical malpractice claims.

The study, published in the Journal of Healthcare Risk Management, analyzed 607 medical malpractice claims involving anesthesia that were reported to The Doctors Company, a medical malpractice insurance company with reported assets of $4.3 billion and 75,000 members.

According to the study, damage to teeth was the most frequent anesthesia-related injury reported, accounting for 20.8 percent of the claims. According to the study, 18.3 percent of the claims involved the death of the patient, 13.5 percent involved nerve damage, 12.7 percent involved damage to organs, 10.9 percent of claims were over pain and 10.7 percent involved cardiopulmonary arrest. Obesity of the patient was the most frequent contributing factor leading to a claim.

Smaller hospitals had fewer claims, but greater rates of mortality and nerve damage, the study found. The lowest death-to-claim rate was found in ambulatory surgery centers. The average indemnity payment for anesthesia medical malpractice claims was $309,066, higher than the average of $291,000 for all physician specialties.

According to the study, in 80 percent of claims, the complication that led to the claim had been explained to patients before the procedure. However, researchers said that patients may not have had enough understanding to associate those risks with the injuries they suffered.

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