Purpose: The use of interventional radiology procedures has considerably increased in recent years, as has the number of related medicolegal litigations. This study aimed to highlight the problems underlying malpractice claims in interventional radiology and to assess the importance of the informed consent process. Materials and methods: The authors examined all insurance claims relating to presumed errors in interventional radiology filed by radiologists over a period of 14 years after isolating them from the insurance database of all radiologists registered with the Italian Society of Medical Radiology (SIRM) between 1 January1993 and 31 December 2006. Results: In the period considered, 98 malpractice claims were filed against radiologists who had performed interventional radiology procedures. In 21 cases (21.4%), the event had caused the patient's death. In >80% of cases, the event occurred in a public facility. The risk of a malpractice claim for a radiologist practising interventional procedures is 47 per 1,000, which corresponds to one malpractice claim for each 231 years of activity. Discussion: Interventional radiology, a discipline with a biological risk profile similar to that of surgery, exposes practitioners to a high risk of medicolegal litigation both because of problems intrinsic to the techniques used and because of the need to operate on severely ill patients with compromised clinical status. Conclusions: Litigation prevention largely depends on both reducing the rate of medical error and providing the patient with correct and coherent information. Adopting good radiological practices, scrupulous review of procedures and efficiency of the instruments used and audit of organisational and management processes are all factors that can help reduce the likelihood of error. Improving communication techniques while safeguarding the patient's right to autonomy also implies adopting clear and rigorous processes for obtaining the patient's informed consent to the medical procedure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging