Malpractice claims following screening mammography in The Netherlands

Authors


Abstract

Although malpractice lawsuits are frequently related to a delayed breast cancer diagnosis in symptomatic patients, information on claims at European screening mammography programs is lacking. We determined the type and frequency of malpractice claims at a Dutch breast cancer screening region. We included all 85,274 women (351,009 screens) who underwent biennial screening mammography at a southern breast screening region in The Netherlands between 1997 and 2009. Two screening radiologists reviewed the screening mammograms of all screen detected cancers and interval cancers and determined whether the cancer had been missed at the previous screen or at the latest screen, respectively. We analyzed all correspondence between the screening organization, clinicians and screened women, and collected complaints and claims until September 2011. At review, 20.9% (308/1,475) of screen detected cancers and 24.3% (163/670) of interval cancers were considered to be missed at a previous screen. A total of 19 women (of which 2, 6 and 11 women had been screened between 1997 and 2001 (102,439 screens), 2001 and 2005 (114,740 screens) and 2005 and 2009 (133,830 screens), respectively) had contacted the screening organization for additional information about their screen detected cancer or interval cancer, but filed no claim. Three other women directly initiated an insurance claim for financial compensation of their interval cancer without previously having contacted the screening organization. We conclude that screening-related claims were rarely encountered, although many screen detected cancers and interval cancers had been missed at a previous screen. A small but increasing proportion of women sought additional information about their breast cancer from the screening organization.

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