Causes of breast cancer malpractice litigation. A 20-year civil court review

Arch Surg. 1992 May;127(5):542-6; discussion 546-7. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.1992.01420050062008.

Abstract

To determine objectively the patient and physician factors that lead to breast cancer malpractice litigation, a review was undertaken of all cases tried in the US federal and state civil court system over a 20-year period from 1971 through 1990. Forty-five cases were identified and all involved a delayed diagnosis of breast cancer (the mean delay was 15 months). The patients were young (mean age, 40 years). Of 45 cases studied, the majority of patients (37 [82%]) found a painless mass by self-examination of the breast. Only 22 patients (49%) had further workup, mostly by mammography (20 [44%]). The results of 16 mammograms (80%) were read as normal. Obstetricians and gynecologists were involved in the greatest number of cases (21 [50%]), followed by family practitioners and internists (17 [41%]), general surgeons (12 [28%]), and radiologists (4 [10%]).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Self-Examination
  • Databases, Factual
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liability, Legal / economics
  • Malpractice / economics
  • Malpractice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mammography
  • Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Regression Analysis
  • Specialization*
  • Time Factors
  • United States