The aim of this study was to analyse malpractice claims in mammography, estimate the specific risk of future claims and assess their impact on radiologists and society. The study considered insurance claims filed by radiologists of the Italian Society of Medical Radiology (SIRM) over a 12.5-year period between 1 January 1993 and 30 June 2005. We isolated claims related to presumed diagnostic errors in mammography. We then estimated the number of claims arising from events in the study period that are expected to be filed over the next few years, before the expiry of the prescriptive period of 10 years. The total number of claims was 1,088. Of these, 302 were caused by alleged diagnostic errors in cases of cancer; 189 (62%) concerned breast cancers and mammographic technique. Assuming a constant frequency of claims filed by radiologists, we expect a further 637 claims relating to the study period, for a total of 1,725 claims, with 178 claims being related to breast imaging. The predicted rate therefore increases to 10.5 per thousand, equal to a risk of one litigation per radiologist per 10 years of work. The analysis uncovered a complex problem: although radiologists save many lives through the radiographic diagnosis of breast cancer and consequently contribute to the welfare of society, in practice, they can face real or alleged errors, with serious judicial consequences. Awareness of professional risk in current society may represent a valuable reference for choosing and planning to work in radiology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging