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J Am Coll Surg. 1995 Oct;181(4):315-21.

Malpractice litigation involving patients with carcinoma of the breast.

Author information

1
Department of Radiology, Tisch Hospital, New York University Medical Center, NY, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

We sought to evaluate recent trends in the United States of America regarding malpractice awards for patients with carcinoma of the breast.

STUDY DESIGN:

A retrospective review was performed of 118 cases of purported malpractice in the diagnosis and management of patients with carcinoma of the breast and related problems. The information was tabulated from Westlaw Transmission, a computerized database.

RESULTS:

Gynecologists were the specialists most often sued and accounted for 47 percent of the physicians involved in lawsuits. Radiologists were cited in only 13 percent of the cases. Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) were cited in 5 percent of the cases. The most common complaint was delay in diagnosis, made by a plaintiff who detected her own breast mass (52 percent). In 15 percent of the cases, the plaintiffs complained that a mammogram was not obtained, and 9 percent complained that other diagnostic tests, such as ultrasound or fine-needle aspiration biopsy, were not performed. The average delay in diagnosis was 14 months. The average award to plaintiffs with carcinoma of the breast was $691,449. The average plaintiff's age was 44 years.

CONCLUSIONS:

Most malpractice complaints related to carcinoma of the breast are instituted by women under the age of 50 years who identified the breast mass by themselves and were assumed by their physicians to have fibrocystic disease of the breast. Complaints can be expected to increase regarding failure to order further diagnostic tests, such as ultrasound or fine-needle aspiration biopsy, despite a negative mammogram. Complaints against HMOs are now also being made, citing failure to properly diagnose or treat patients with carcinoma of the breast.

PMID:
7551325
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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