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The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2012 December;53(6):715-7


language: English

Claimants in vascular surgery

Sirignano P. 1, Setacci F. 1, Galzerano G. 1, Sirignano A. 2, Setacci C. 1

1 Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Unit, Department of Surgery, University of Siena, Siena, Italy; 2 Institute of Medical Law, School of Law, University of Camerino, Camerino, Macerata, Italy


AIM: Litigation concerning medical activities is constantly increasing, as society becomes more and more “protective” of citizens who may have suffered any wrong due to malpractice. However, we should bear in mind that the percentage of claims liquidated is minimal.
METHODS: From January 2009 to December 2011, 63 claims involving vascular procedures were analyzed. The rate of claimants receiving payment was very low: only 8 of the 63 (12.7%) claims having been settled. The most important thing we noted was that in 5 of the 8 claims settled the key element that defined the sentence was time: time to take a decision, to perform a diagnostic examination, to decide on a surgical procedure.
RESULTS: We have sought to assess the role of the “time factor” in the occurrence of errors in a surgical specialty considered at high risk of litigation such as vascular surgery. This analysis of our experience over the past three years has shown that the central element in the genesis of the error was the erroneous timing of intervention. It interesting to note that, in contrast to what might be expected, time-related errors are much more common in cases treated electively than in urgent or emergency cases.
CONCLUSION: Our experience demonstrates that the “time factor” plays a primary role in the genesis of errors in vascular surgery. This delay in deciding and acting probably depends on the fact that the vascular surgeon was the patient’s first contact in only one of the cases examined. This should emphasize the need to equip all emergency departments with a Vascular Surgery Unit.

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