The Doctor’s Advocate | Third Quarter 2017
Innovations in Patient Safety

Internal Medicine and Diagnosis Errors

Our video series highlights how doctors nationwide are using the data-driven insights from our closed claims studies to improve patient safety in their practices or hospitals. Our vast database of claims gives us an unparalleled understanding of the most common patient allegations and factors contributing to injury, and our specialty-specific studies help shine a light on risks others don’t see.

This quarter, we feature Howard Marcus, MD, an internal medicine physician in Austin, Texas, who used insights from our Internal Medicine Closed Claims Study to address the issue of diagnosis-related errors in his medical group. Our study showed that 39 percent of internal medicine claims resulted from a delay or failure to diagnose. Dr. Marcus noted that there are over 8,000 recognized diagnoses, but the average internal medicine doctor only sees about 400 each year—leaving a large number of diagnoses that doctors see infrequently.

Dr. Marcus’s practice holds small group seminars to discuss the underlying psychological biases in diagnosis error, such as anchoring, premature closure, and overconfidence. Focusing on the issues behind diagnosis errors helps the medical group identify potential landmines early on.

Watch this important video for a case study on how overconfidence by a primary care physician led to a less-than-optimal outcome for one patient suffering from acute cholecystitis.

Learn More

Read our Internal Medicine Closed Claims Study at


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.

Third Quarter 2017

Director's Forum
The Search for Mary Smith

An Ounce of Prevention
Obstetrical Closed Claims: What Can We Learn?

Government Relations Report
Advocacy Update

Foundation News
Foundation Reaches Milestone

Groundbreaking Research Funded by the Foundation

New MACRA Practice Resource

Innovations in Patient Safety
Internal Medicine and Diagnosis Errors

The Back Page
Industry and Company News

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Here’s what to ask.

Selecting a medical malpractice insurer is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. It's a prime opportunity to ask: Is this the type of insurer I want protecting my reputation?