Medical malpractice companies partner to provide a detailed analysis of breast cancer medical malpractice claims. The findings may surprise you.
Findings from a new study can provide insight to healthcare executives and risk managers regarding how to complete a proactive risk assessment in breast cancer treatment and diagnosis.
With the exception of skin cancer, breast cancer remains the most common cancer among American women. It affects approximately one in eight women and is the leading cause of cancer-related death. Additionally, a small number of men are diagnosed with and die from breast cancer yearly. The good news is that the overall rate of newly diagnosed cases began to decrease in 2000, and the overall death rate has continued to trend downward over the past 20 years.
To identify breast cancer risks and provide insights into potential vulnerabilities for providers and patients, medical malpractice providers CRICO Strategies and The Doctors Company recently partnered on a detailed analysis of 562 breast cancer medical malpractice claims from 2009 to 2014.
“We decided to collaborate on a more comprehensive study because we understood the frequency with which these cases occur and the devastating impact that these patients suffer,” says Kerin Torpey Bashaw, MPH, BSN, RN, senior vice president of patient safety and risk management. “We hoped to identify key issues that would help primary care providers correctly and timely diagnose their patients who have breast cancer and help treating physicians manage these cases.”
The study, based on a detailed analysis of 562 breast cancer medical malpractice claims, found:
Findings from this study can provide insight to healthcare executives and risk managers with regards to focus areas to complete a proactive risk assessment. “A proactive risk assessment looks at specific areas that are risk prone prior to any known incidents so that the potential for a bad outcome can be mitigated, reduced, or eliminated before it might happen,” she says.
In the study, inaccurate and untimely diagnosis were often associated with inadequate assessments, communication between patient, family, and provider, communication among providers, patient noncompliance with follow-up appointments and breast treatment plans, and failure or delay by the physician in obtaining a consult, according to Torpey Bashaw.
Management and treatment claims were associated with improper performance of surgery and management after surgery. Communication issues between patient/family and providers also contributed.
“Areas associated with claims in the study are areas that healthcare executives may want to assess proactively in their risk management programs,” she says. “Organizations should evaluate their policies and processes to determine if they can identify system weaknesses that have the potential to harm patients.”
Other unique findings include:
Based on the study, Torpey Bashaw offers six takeaways: