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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

In Medscape's Malpractice Report 2019, more than 4300 physicians in over 25 specialties told us whether they have been sued, the reason for the lawsuit, what happened, and how the experience affected the way they practice medicine and relate to patients. Here, cardiologists provide their insights on involvement with lawsuits.

(Note: Some totals in this presentation do not equal 100% due to rounding.)

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

Nearly two thirds of cardiologists have been named in at least one malpractice suit, more than the percentage of physicians overall (59%). Eighteen percent were the only parties sued, similar to the replies of physicians overall (14%). (Respondents were allowed to select both "yes" categories if they were named in multiple lawsuits.)

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

About one third of cardiologists who have been sued reported complications from treatment or surgery and wrongful death as the reason. Failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis was the main reason for physicians overall (33%). (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

For nearly 6 out of 10 cardiologists, being sued came as a complete shock. This was higher than the percentage of all physicians (52%).

"There's a whole host of what you could call psychological factors that can contribute to the filing of a claim," says David S. Szabo, Esq., malpractice defense attorney with Locke Lord, LLP, Boston. "These can occur when a patient perceives a breakdown in the doctor-patient relationship, or is pretty certain that there's been a mistake, and they feel like they've been shut out of productive conversation with their healthcare provider or providers."

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

The vast majority of cardiologists said that lawsuits against them were not warranted. Only a small percentage of cardiologists felt that legal action was justified, similar to the percentage of all physicians (6%).

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

Nearly one third of cardiologists who were sued could point to a trigger incident that set the suit in motion. Half of cardiologist respondents could not recall a specific incident that spurred the suit.

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

Nearly half of cardiologists who were sued reported spending more than 40 hours on their defense. Associated tasks include gathering records, meeting with attorneys, and preparing for depositions.

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

Of cardiologists who have been sued, nearly half said the entire process took 1-2 years to resolve. For almost 1 in 5, the lawsuit process dragged out for 3-5 years; for a small percentage, a resolution took more than 5 years.

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

Nearly one third of cardiologists who have faced a lawsuit said the case was settled before trial. Of cardiologists whose cases went to trial, nearly one fifth said a judge or jury returned a verdict in their favor, while a small percentage said the case was ruled in favor of the plaintiff.

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

Most often, cardiologists felt that patients simply don't understand medical risks; they don't realize that bad outcomes can happen even if a doctor does everything right. Many cardiologists also recognized that if there is a true medical error, patients are harmed and want to assign blame. (Respondents were allowed to choose more than one answer.)

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

The overwhelming majority of cardiologists who responded to our survey have malpractice insurance, but less than the percentage of physicians overall (94%).

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

Among cardiologists with malpractice coverage who either settled or went to trial, most were either encouraged or required by their insurer to settle the case.

"Generally, if a physician senses that he or she is heading toward a difference of opinion with the insurer about settlement, they probably ought to invest a little time in having personal counsel look at the case," says Szabo.

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

While facing a lawsuit can be devastating for physicians, about half of cardiologists surveyed reported no changes following its resolution. Around one third of cardiologists, however, did report changes in the way they treat patients, and nearly one tenth reported leaving their practice setting.

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

Among cardiologists' cases that resulted in a settlement or verdict in plaintiffs' favor, most monetary awards maxed out at $500,000.

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

Six out of every 10 cardiologists named in a lawsuit felt that the outcome of the case was fair, similar to the percentage of all physicians (58%) who felt that way.

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

Looking back, cardiologists said they would have done several things differently. Cited most often were better chart documentation and ordering tests that would have "covered" them.

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

The majority of cardiologists don't think saying sorry or offering an apology to the patient would have deterred their lawsuit. Their response is similar to that of all physicians (82%) who have been sued.

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

Making the plaintiff responsible for all fees if they lose the case, and having a medical panel screen cases for merit, were the favored measures among cardiologists for averting lawsuits. (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

With a growing reliance on nurse practitioners and physician assistants to quell patient demand, there has been some concern by supervising physicians that this would create a greater malpractice risk. However, only a small percentage of cardiologists said they have suffered legal consequences.

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

More than half of cardiologists were dissatisfied with medical organizations' or state societies' work (or lack thereof) to reduce malpractice suits. This dissatisfaction is nearly the same among all physicians responding to the survey (56%).

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Cardiologist Malpractice Report 2019

Keith L. Martin | January 22, 2020 | Contributor Information

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