Most common medical liability claims and costs: Radiology

November 16, 2020 Sara Bergmanson

A specialty snapshot provided by the Medical Professional Liability Association (MPL Association) Data Sharing Project reports radiology as having the third highest number of medical liability claims between 2016 and 2018.

Top 10 specialties by closed claims

The 1,403 radiology closed claims and lawsuits make up 7.5% of all closed claim data within those two years. Diagnostic errors made up 77% of allegations and 17% of allegations were related to procedures.

Top allegations for radiology closed claims

Patient death accounted in 25% of all incidents among radiology claims data with breast cancer being the most prevalent and most expensive outcome. Lung cancer and cerebral infarction were also among top resulting medical conditions for diagnostic-related issues.

Additional insights

Top presenting medical conditions:

  • Abdominal and pelvic pain
  • Encounter for screening for malignant neoplasms
  • Unspecified lump in breast
  • Dorsalgia
  • Malignant neoplasm of breast

Top outcomes:

  • Malignant neoplasm of breast
  • Malignant neoplasm of bronchus and lung
  • Complications of procedures, not elsewhere classified
  • Cerebral infarction
  • Cardiac arrest

Top procedures:

  • Other diagnostic radiology and related techniques
  • CT scan abdomen
  • Mammography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Routine chest X-ray

Defense costs

63% of the radiology claims were non-meritorious resulting in dropped, withdrawn, or dismissed cases with no indemnity payment to the claimant. The average defense cost for these non-meritorious claims was $28,110.

Closed claims by disposition

31% of radiology claims closed resulted in an average indemnity payment of $452,240, which is higher than all health care specialties combined ($371,560).

Total and average indemnity payments for radiology closed claims

30% of radiology claims involving a patient death had an average indemnity payment of $469,338.

The average indemnity payment for breast cancer claims was $594,376 but claims involving major permanent injuries had the highest average indemnity payment of $784,694. The largest payment reported for a radiology claim was $3.7 million.

4% of claims were resolved through trial, and the jury found in favor of the defendant 87% of the time. The average cost to defend these claims was $123,961.

Top 10 specialties by closed claims

About the MPL Association

The MPL Association is the insurance industry trade association that represents a full range of entities doing business in the medical professional liability arena. Their mission is to promote, protect, educate, and connect medical professional liability insurers that support the quality delivery of healthcare and practice of medicine. MPL Association members insure nearly 2 million healthcare professionals around the world including more than two-thirds of America’s private practicing physicians.

The MPL Association launched the Data Sharing Project in 1985 to identify areas in the practice of medicine that are most vulnerable to medical liability claims as well as support efforts towards medical liability reform. It is the largest ongoing independent collaborative database of medical professional liability claims and lawsuits.

Reprinted with permission from the MPL Association. DSP Specialty Snapshot, 2020 Edition. MPL Association. Copyright, 2020.

The information provided may be used for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the MPL Association.

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