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Medical professional liability in gastroenterology: definitions, trends, risk factors, provider behaviors, and implications
Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology  (IF3.869),  Pub Date : 2021-06-15, DOI: 10.1080/17474124.2021.1940957
John Azizian, Camellia Dalai, Megan A. Adams, Andrew Murcia, James H. Tabibian


Introduction: Medical professional liability (MPL) is a notable concern for many clinicians, especially in procedure-intensive specialties such as gastroenterology (GI). Comprehensive understanding of the basis for MPL claims can improve gastroenterologists’ practice, lower MPL risk, and improve the overall patient care experience. This is particularly relevant in the setting of the increasing average compensation per paid GI-related MPL claim, and evolving healthcare delivery patterns and regulations.

Areas Covered: MPL claims are generally grounded in the concept of negligence, a broad term that may apply to situations involving medical errors, ameliorable adverse events, inadequate informed consent and/or refusal, and numerous others. Though often not directly discussed in GI training or thereafter, there are various mechanisms and behaviors that can alter (decrease or increase) MPL risk. Additional dimensions of MPL include telemedicine, social media, and vicarious liability. We discuss these topics as well as takeaways to mitigate risk, thus reducing unnecessary clinician anxiety, promoting professional development, and optimizing healthcare outcomes.

Expert Opinion: MPL risk is modifiable. Strong provider-patient relationships, through effective communication, patient reassurance, and enhanced informed consent, decrease risk, as does thorough documentation. Conversely, provider ‘defensive’ mechanisms intended to decrease MPL risk, including assurance and avoidance behaviors, may paradoxically increase it.