Evaluation of medical malpractice in emergency and elective general surgery cases resulting in death
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Background: General surgery is one of the branches in which the distinction between complication and malpractice is difficult to distinguish. In this study, presentation of the main forensic medical parameters considered for the evaluation of medical malpractice in cases of general surgery deaths in which medical malpractice has been alleged and discussing related concepts through the literature are aimed. Methods: Allegations of medical malpractice against general surgery physicians sent to the First Forensic Expertise Board of the Council of Forensic Medicine between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2013 for which the relation of casuality between medical malpractice and death had been determined were retrospectively evaluated. Results: Medical malpractice was ruled in 21.9% (n=23) of 105 cases. The most common primary disease diagnoses were trauma-injury (n=32, 30.5%), cholecystitis (n=25, 23.8%) and appendicitis (n=8, 7.6%). When treatment types were compared according to malpractice decision, rate of malpractice in medicine-only treatment was found to be significantly higher compared to surgery + medical treatment (p=0.003, p<0.01). No statistically significant difference was found regarding the rate of malpractice between cases of emergency and elective surgery (p>0.05). When incidence of medical malpractice was compared between cases with clinical diagnosis and diagnosis determined by autopsy, a statistically significant difference was found (p=0.031, p<0.05). Malpractice was ruled at a significantly lower rate in cases in which diagnosis was confirmed with autopsy (p=0.028, p<0.05). Discussion: It can be concluded that physicians are as successful in emergency conditions as in elective conditions and correct administration of medical treatment is of vital importance. Moreover, the Council of Forensic Medicine considers the clinical follow-up data as well as the autopsy data in medical malpractice evaluation.