RSNA: Career-long risk of malpractice for rads may reach 60%

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CHICAGO–The lifetime risk of malpractice hovers between 50 and 60 percent for male radiologists and stands at 40 percent for their female counterparts, with 31 percent of respondents having at least one malpractice claim, according to a survey of 8,401 radiologists presented on Nov. 28 at the 97th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Jeremy Whang, MD, of New Jersey Medical School in Newark, and colleagues surveyed 8,401 radiologists participating in the network of One Call Medical, a broker for CT/MR studies in workmen’s compensation cases, and sought to determine the demographics of radiologists involved in malpractice suits.

According to Whang, 2,624 of 8,401 radiologists had at least one malpractice claim. There was a fair amount of geographic and gender disparity among the results.

The likelihood of being sued at least once was highest in Utah at 55 percent and lowest in Wisconsin at 14 percent. The state with the highest number of suits per radiologist was New York with 1.2 claims per radiologist and the lowest in Alabama with 0.18 suits per radiologist.

Radiologists in Louisiana had the greatest risk for an unfavorable judgment or settlement, -7.25 times as many cases ended in a payment to the plaintiff there as those which ended with no payment. In contrast, this payment ratio was most favorable for radiologists in Indiana (0.37).

Overall, male radiologists faced a greater risk of a malpractice. Whang et al calculated that 24 percent of female radiologists had claims against them, compared to their male counterparts, of whom 34 percent had claims. The chance of a man ever being sued by age 60 is 50 percent, whereas it is 40 percent in women of the same age.

The researchers estimated the yearly risk of being sued at 2.8 percent for male radiologists and 2.1 percent for female radiologists.