Compensated Patient Injuries in the Treatment of Abdominal Aortic and Iliac Artery Aneurysms in Finland: A Nationwide Patient Insurance Registry Study

Ann Vasc Surg. 2022 Mar:80:283-292. doi: 10.1016/j.avsg.2021.08.055. Epub 2021 Nov 7.


Objectives: Patient injury claims data and insurance records provide detailed information on patient injuries. This study aimed to identify the errors and adverse events that led to patient injuries in vascular surgery for the treatments of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) and iliac artery aneurysms (IAA) in Finland. The study also assessed the severity and preventability of the injuries.

Materials and methods: A retrospective analysis of Finnish Patient Insurance Centre's insurance charts of compensated patient injuries in the treatment of AAA and IAA. Records of all compensated patient injury claims involving AAA and IAA between 2004 and 2017 inclusive were reviewed. Contributing factors to injury were identified and classified. The injuries were assessed for their preventability by using the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist correctly. The degree of harm was graded by Clavien-Dindo classification.

Results: Twenty-six patient injury incidents were identified in the treatment of 23 patients. Typical injuries involved delays in diagnosis or treatment, errors in surgical technique or injuries to adjacent anatomic organs. Three (13.0%) patients died due to patient injury. Two deaths were caused by delays in diagnosis of ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (RAAA) and the third death was due to missed diagnosis of post-operative myocardial infarction. Retained foreign material caused injuries to two (8.7%) patients. One (4.3%) patient had a severe postoperative infection. Three (13.0%) patients experienced an injury to an adjacent organ. One patient had a bilateral and another a unilateral above-the-knee amputation due to patient injury. Three injuries were considered preventable. Most harms were grade IIIb Clavien-Dindo classification in which injured patients required a surgical intervention under general anesthesia.

Conclusions: Compensated patient injuries involving the treatment of AAA and IAA are rare, but are often serious. Injuries were identified during all stages of care. Most injuries involved open surgical procedures.

Keywords: Aortic aneurysm; Iliac aneurysm; Injury; Patient harm; Patient safety; Quality of care.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / mortality
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / surgery*
  • Aortic Rupture / diagnosis
  • Aortic Rupture / mortality
  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Iliac Aneurysm / mortality
  • Iliac Aneurysm / surgery*
  • Insurance, Health
  • Intraoperative Complications / economics
  • Intraoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Medical Errors / economics
  • Medical Errors / mortality
  • Medical Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / economics
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*