Otorhinolaryngology (ORL) is considered a specialty associated with few serious patient injuries. Research data that support this belief are, however, scarce. We analyzed claims associated with ORL to determine the number of Finnish cases and the possible common denominators.
Register study of ORL cases in the Patient Insurance Centre (PIC), the Regional State Administrative Agencies (RSAA), and the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Care (Valvira) during the years 2004 to 2008.
These three agencies are the main actors in the field of patient injury in Finland. We analyzed compensated ORL patient injury cases from the PIC and cases associated with the ORL specialty for Valvira and RSAA from 2004 to 2008 and surveyed patient treatment files, statements from specialists, and compensation decisions.
Injuries were usually associated with operations; three patients who experienced injuries during these procedures died. Common ORL operations such as tonsillectomy, septoplasty, and paranasal sinus surgery were most often associated with compensated injuries. Serious injuries were few, with a total of 110 out of 422 (26.1%) claims compensated by the PIC. Of the 110 compensated cases, 30 (27.3%) were related to tumor surgery. The most usual compensated case had iatrogenic nerve injury affecting the facial or trigeminal nerves. Of the compensated cases, 79 (71.8%) were treated by specialists, 15 (13.6%) by residents, and the rest by other medical professionals.
Patient injuries in ORL are seldom severe and are strongly associated with surgery. A typical compensated injury was one that occurred in a central hospital during working hours.
Level of Evidence
N/A. Laryngoscope, 123:2397–2400, 2013