What do pediatric residents know about malpractice?

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2011 Jul;27(7):586-90. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e31822251fb.


Objective: The objective was to assess pediatric residents' attitudes toward and knowledge about medical malpractice before and after an educational intervention.

Methods: A survey of pediatric residents at our academic tertiary-care center was conducted before and 6 months after an educational workshop.

Results: Of 71 eligible residents, 46 (65%) completed surveys. Thirty-nine (85%) of the 46 original participants completed the follow-up survey. At baseline, 86% thought medical malpractice should be taught during residency. This proportion increased to 95% at follow-up. At baseline, 43% reported that fear of a malpractice claim affected their practice. At follow-up, 69% indicated that fear of malpractice affected their practice (P = 0.01), and 69% of these reported improved documentation. At baseline, 30% of participants correctly thought that a resident's level of training was not a factor in determining if standard of care was provided. This increased to 56% at follow-up (P = 0.01). The majority (91%) of baseline participants thought a physician would be notified of a claim within less than 2 years of the occurrence. The actual mean delay is 25 months. At follow-up, 71% thought a physician would be notified 2 years later or more.

Conclusions: Pediatric residents are uncomfortable with their knowledge of medical malpractice and think it should be taught during residency. Confusion regarding responsibility to provide standard of care and underestimates of the likelihood of being sued and the time to notification of a suit support the need for malpractice education. An educational intervention improves background knowledge and self-reported documentation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Malpractice* / statistics & numerical data
  • Pediatrics / education*
  • Standard of Care
  • Surveys and Questionnaires