3 years ago

Alleged malpractice in orthopaedics. Analysis of a series of medmal insurance claims

S. Novello, M. B. Casali, A. Blandino, S. Del Sordo, G. Travaini, U. Genovese, G. Vignali, M. Berlusconi



Medical malpractice is an important topic worldwide, and orthopedics is a clinical branch that is considered to be at a high risk for claims. The analysis of a series of medmal insurance claims allows forensic pathologists, clinicians, and insurance companies to probe the risk of a specific clinical branch for medical malpractice claims and highlights areas where care may be improved. We investigated the main features of a major Italian insurance broker’s archive in order to identify recurrent pitfalls in this field.

Materials and methods

A retrospective study was carried out on orthopedics claims. The archive covered claims from 2002 to 2013 that targeted 1980 orthopedists.


635 claims were found and analyzed with a focus on the clinical activity invocked in the claim, the presence of alleged team malpractice, the clinical outcome of the case, and the final forensic decision regarding the claim. 299 orthopedists had at least one malpractice claim made against them during the available period; 146 orthopedists were subject to more than one malpractice claim. Most of the claims regarded perioperative and operative cases, usually originating from civil litigation. The anatomical sites most commonly involved were the hip or knees, and sciatic nerve lesions were the main contributor.


Orthopedics is a medical specialty with a high risk for malpractice claims. In our study, medical malpractice was observed in nearly 50% of the cases—typically in surgery-linked cases resulting in permanent impairment of the patient. Death from orthopedics malpractice seemed to be rare.

Level of Evidence


Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s10195-018-0500-4

DOI: 10.1186/s10195-018-0500-4

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