Violations of behavioral practices revealed in closed claims reviews

F. Dean Griffen, Linda S. Stephens, James B. Alexander, H. Randolph Bailey, Scott E. Maizel, Beth H. Sutton, Karen L. Posner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objective: Closed claims against general surgeons were reviewed, seeking insights into the effects of surgeons deficient behavioral practices on outcomes. Research and educational strategies based on findings may reduce errors and improve care. Summary Background Data: Adverse events occur in 2.9% to 3.7% of hospital admissions in the United States. Of these adverse events, 27.4% to 32.6% are the result of errors. Failures at the point-of-service can undermine the other elements of systems of care designed to reduce preventable adverse outcomes. In this regard, the relative importance of surgeons behavior is poorly defined. methods: Fellows of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) reviewed 460 malpractice claims against general surgeons. The relationship between detrimental behavioral practice patterns - deficiencies in care that reflected a lack of diligence, vigilance, and/or commitment of time more than a lack of knowledge and/or skill - and the preventability of adverse events was assessed. Results: Failures in practice patterns of behavior occurred in 78% of cases and were frequently associated with preventable injuries. When both behavioral practice violations and technical misadventures occurred, the complications were more likely to be preventable than if only a technical misadventure had occurred. Among several deficient behavioral practices, the failure to communicate was most pervasive, accounting for 22% of complications in the study. Conclusions: Stakeholders in health care policy should focus on the issue of physician behavior in crafting shifts in institutional cultures and in targeting new CME toward evidenced-based behavioral practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-473
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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