Background: Installation of the pneumoperitoneum is an essential part of laparoscopic surgery. Creation can be performed by either the open or a closed technique. The aim of this study was to assess the number of and contributing factors to entry-related complications in medical liability insurance claims in The Netherlands.
Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed, including all malpractice claims filed at MediRisk, which is presently the largest medical liability mutual insurance company for institutions, mainly hospitals, in healthcare in The Netherlands.
Results: From January 1993 to December 2005, 41 claims were identified as entry-related complications which comprised 18% of all laparoscopy-related complications leading to claims. Most were young (median age = 35 years) female patients who had routine, nonadvanced, laparoscopic procedures planned as short-stay or day-care procedures. The claims were equally divided between general surgery (n = 20) and gynecology (n = 21). A total of 51 structures were injured. There were 18 vascular structure injuries, 30 bowel injuries, and three other injuries. An open entry technique was used in only two (5%) patients. Vascular injury was exclusively associated with closed entry. In only 19 (46%) patients the entry-related complication was diagnosed peroperatively, consisting of 70% of the vascular and 25% of the bowel injuries. Twenty-six patients (64%) were admitted to the intensive care unit for a median of five days. There was no mortality. Besides conversion, the majority of the patients filed a claim to compensate for a longer hospital stay and related costs. A payment was made in 17 (57%) of the 30 settled claims.
Conclusions: Medical liability claims concerning laparoscopic entry-related complications comprised a fifth of all laparoscopy-related claims. Claims concerning entry-related complications occurred in young patients who had routine, nonadvanced procedures. In the investigated cases most claims involved the closed-entry technique.