Author(s): Tessler MJ, Shrier I, Steele RJ
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Abstract BACKGROUND: : The threat of being sued is a concern for many anesthesiologists. This paper asks whether litigation brought against anesthesiologists is associated with the age of the anesthesiologist. METHODS: : Institutional research ethics approval was granted. We obtained billing data for all procedures performed by specialist anesthesiologists stratified into three age groups (less than 51, 51-64, and 65 and older) from British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario for the 10-yr period from Jan. 1, 1993 to Dec. 31, 2002. We also obtained all litigations (including disability weighted claims) handled by the Canadian Medical Protective Association during the same time period in which the Canadian Medical Protective Association experts considered the anesthesiologist cited to be at least partially responsible for the adverse event leading to the complaint. RESULTS: : In univariate analysis with the less than 51 age group as the reference category, the litigation rate ratio for the 51-64 age group was 1.14 (95\% CI: 0.99-1.32) and for the 65 and older age group was 1.50 (95\% CI: 1.14-1.97). Our analyses using disability weighted claims showed the 51-64 group to have 1.31 (95\% CI: 0.95-1.80) and 65 and older group to have 1.94 (95\% CI: 1.41-2.67) relative increase in disability compared to the less than 51 age group. CONCLUSIONS: : We found a higher frequency of litigation and a greater severity of injury in patients treated by anesthesiologists in the 65 and older group. The reasons for these findings should become an active field of research.
This article was published in Anesthesiology
and referenced in Journal of Anesthesia & Clinical Research