Background: Little is known about the incidence or significance of diagnostic error in the inpatient setting. We used a malpractice claims database to examine incidence, predictors and consequences of diagnosis-related paid malpractice claims in hospitalised patients.
Methods: The US National Practitioner Database was used to identify paid malpractice claims occurring between 1 January 1999 and 31 December 2011. Patient and provider characteristics associated with paid claims were analysed using descriptive statistics. Differences between diagnosis-related paid claims and other paid claim types (eg, surgical, anaesthesia, medication) were assessed using Wilcoxon rank-sum and χ2 tests. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify patient and provider factors associated with diagnosis-related paid claims. Trends for incidence of diagnosis-related paid claims and median annual payment were assessed using the Cochran-Armitage and non-parametric trend test.
13 682 of 62 966 paid malpractice claims (22%) were diagnosis-related. Compared with other paid claim types, characteristics significantly associated with diagnosis-related paid claims were as follows: male patients, patient aged
Conclusion: Inpatient diagnosis-related malpractice payments are common and more often associated with disability and death than other claim types. Research focused on understanding and mitigating diagnostic errors in hospital settings is necessary.
Keywords: diagnostic errors; hospital medicine; measurement/epidemiology; medical error; patient safety.
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