[7 MIN READ]
Among physicians, surgeons are at increased medico-legal risk compared to non-surgeons; they also have more medical malpractice claims and claims paid per year. Jena et al.1 found that the probability of facing a claim varied from 15.3% in general surgery to only 5.2% in family general practice. In a recent review of National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) records, Schaffer et al.2 noted that the number of paid claims per 1,000 physician years was 30.0 for general surgeons and only 7.1 for internal medicine. Although there are a number of factors responsible for this wide variation, the correlation between the physician-patient relationship and the risk of a medical malpractice suit is well established.
A recent study by Tibble et al.3 explored the incidence and classification of complaints about physicians, finding that surgeons attracted 2.3 times as many complaints as non-surgeon physicians. Although the thrust of the article remains valid and the implications are concerning, there are a few factors that modify the severity of the concern.