The Doctor’s Advocate | First Quarter 2020
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Industry and Company News

Study Explores Malpractice Claims Against Radiologists

Our Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology Closed Claims Study shows that misinterpretation of scans and films—particularly CT scans—is the leading cause of patient injury involving diagnostic radiologists. The study, which analyzes closed malpractice claims against both diagnostic and interventional radiologists, details causes of patient injuries and provides risk mitigation strategies.

“We undertake this research as part of our mission to advance the practice of good medicine and to spot trends early so physicians can focus on caring for patients instead of defending their practices,” said Darrell Ranum, JD, CPHRM, study author and vice president of patient safety and risk management. “This research sheds light on the most common types of claims, the most frequent patient injuries, the severity of these injuries, and the factors that contributed to patient harm.”

The study involved physician experts who reviewed claims and conducted medical record reviews to gain an accurate and unbiased understanding of what led to patient injuries.

“The findings in this study, especially those involving CT scans, should be noted by all diagnostic radiologists and clinicians,” said Bradley N. Delman, MD, MS, a neuroradiologist and vice chair for quality in radiology at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital. “It appears that communication between radiologists and clinicians is happening more effectively than shown in a prior survey of claims, but with 18 percent of injuries still associated with poor communication between physicians, we still have plenty of room for improvement.”

In claims against interventional radiologists, physician experts found:

  • The top contributing factor to injury was technical performance, occurring in 76 percent of claims—most involving patients who suffered poor outcomes after invasive procedures.
  • In 65 percent of these cases, the correct procedure was performed appropriately, even when the patient suffered an undesirable outcome.
  • Only 11 percent of claims were found to be due to poor technique or incorrect body site.

“These findings indicate the importance of communication between the interventional radiologist and the patient prior to the surgery or procedure,” Mr. Ranum said. “It is critical for the radiologist to clearly explain the potential for injury during the informed consent process and verify that the patient understands the risks.”

Chief Financial Officer and Chief Risk Officer Appointed

Marco Vanderlaan has been appointed chief financial officer (CFO) and chief risk officer. Mr. Vanderlaan has held a variety of senior leadership positions with The Doctors Company for 18 years, helping to build the company into the nation’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer. He most recently served as senior vice president, business assessment, a role he has held since 2010. He has also held executive positions in finance, reinsurance, and strategic planning.

“I am pleased to welcome Marco to his new role,” said Richard E. Anderson, MD, FACP, chairman and chief executive officer. “He has demonstrated vision and foresight in mergers and acquisitions, enterprise risk management, internal audits, and our ethics program, and has been instrumental in the growth of the Tribute® Plan—an unrivaled financial benefit for our members. I am confident that expanding Marco’s role will help accelerate our next phase of growth as we meet the complex insurance, risk management, and risk financing needs of physicians, large groups, hospitals, and healthcare systems.”

“I am honored to take on this position and drive key priorities to build upon our market leadership position,” said Mr. Vanderlaan. “I look forward to growing the financial success, risk intelligence, and conservative business philosophy that empowers our mission to advance, protect, and reward the practice of good medicine.”

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The Doctor’s Advocate is published by The Doctors Company to advise and inform its members about loss prevention and insurance issues.

The guidelines suggested in this newsletter are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. They attempt to define principles of practice for providing appropriate care. The principles are not inclusive of all proper methods of care nor exclusive of other methods reasonably directed at obtaining the same results.

The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider considering the circumstances of the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.

The Doctor’s Advocate is published quarterly by Corporate Communications, The Doctors Company. Letters and articles, to be edited and published at the editor’s discretion, are welcome. The views expressed are those of the letter writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or official policy of The Doctors Company. Please sign your letters, and address them to the editor.

Choosing a malpractice insurer?
Here’s what to ask.

Selecting a medical malpractice insurer is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. This guide outlines what to look for in an insurance company.