Anesthesia Related Closed Claims and Litigations at the Detroit Medical Center: Analysis, Lessons Learned, and Conclusions


The analysis of closed claims and litigations can provide an invaluable tool to improve patient safety by minimizing adverse anesthesia-related outcomes. Analysis of collective data describing such claims is integral to develop new guidelines aimed to reduce adverse anesthesia-related events. In this study, we give a descriptive analysis of anesthesia-related claims at the Detroit Medical Center, Detroit, MI, USA. The study analyzed different components in anesthesia-related closed claims and litigations such as medical, demographic and socio-economic factors. From 67,000 procedures in anesthesiology care provider, related cases claims were made in 0.057% (38/67,000) of all cases. The majority of claims involved procedures involving Caucasian females aged 51-55 years. The highest risk periods involved early shift times during Monday and Tuesday, particularly of procedures performed during August. About 33% of all cases in which death occurred involved patients who received an Obstetrics/Gynecology or an Orthopedic procedure under general anesthesia. The majority of closed claims and litigations cases were distributed between procedures treating nerves injuries and anoxic encephalopathy. The OR and PACU at urban hospitals had the highest claim rates. MD anesthesiologists constituted the lowest proportion of all anesthesia providers involved in closed claims incidents. The average compensation paid was predominately in the range of $200,000-$250,000. In addition to reporting anesthesia related factors involved in closed claims and litigations this study also includes a series of recommendations which may work as a framework for improving anesthesia practices.

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Ferguson, K. , Young, J. , Panagopoulos, P. , Khoury, P. , McKelvey, G. , Fuleihan, S. and Osta, W. (2014) Anesthesia Related Closed Claims and Litigations at the Detroit Medical Center: Analysis, Lessons Learned, and Conclusions. Open Journal of Anesthesiology, 4, 88-98. doi: 10.4236/ojanes.2014.44014.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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