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Article
March 17, 1989

Standard of Care and Anesthesia Liability

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Anesthesiology, University of Washington School of Medicine (Drs Cheney and Ward and Ms Posner), and the Virginia Mason Medical Center (Dr Caplan), Seattle, Wash.

From the Department of Anesthesiology, University of Washington School of Medicine (Drs Cheney and Ward and Ms Posner), and the Virginia Mason Medical Center (Dr Caplan), Seattle, Wash.

JAMA. 1989;261(11):1599-1603. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420110075027
Abstract

For the past 3 years, the Committee on Professional Liability of the American Society of Anesthesiologists has been studying records of closed malpractice claims files for anesthesia-related patient injuries. The database of 1004 lawsuits was examined to define the impact of the "standard of care," as judged by a practicing group of anesthesiologists, on the likelihood and amount of financial recovery. We found that payment was made in more than 80% of claims made by patients who were judged to have received substandard anesthetic care. Payment also was made in more than 40% of claims when the anesthesia care was judged to be appropriate. We conclude that in the tort-based system of compensation for anesthesia-related injury, the patient has a high probability of financial recovery for injury caused by substandard care. However, if the anesthesiologist provides appropriate care there is still a greater than 40% chance that payment will be made for the claim of malpractice.

(JAMA. 1989;261:1599-1603)

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