Objective To examine paediatric malpractice claims and identify common characteristics likely to result in malpractice in children in France.
Design and materials First, the authors did a retrospective and descriptive analysis of all paediatric malpractice claims involving children aged 1 month to 18 years, in which the defendant was coded as paediatrician or general practitioner, reported to the Sou Médical-groupe MASCF insurance company during a 5-year period (2003–2007). Then, a comparison of these results with those from the USA was performed.
Results The average annual incidence of malpractice claims was 0.8/100 paediatricians. 228 malpractice claims were studied and were more frequent (41%) with more severe outcomes in children younger than 2 years of age (52% deaths or major injuries). Meningitis (n=14) and dehydration (n=13) were the leading causes of claims, with highest mortalities (93% and 92%, respectively). The most common alleged misadventures were diagnosis-related error (47%), and medication error (13%). Malignancy was the most common medical condition incorrectly diagnosed (14%).
Conclusions Paediatric malpractice claims are less frequent in France than in the USA, but they share many similarities with those in the USA. These data would enhance the knowledge of high-risk areas in paediatric care that could be targeted to reduce the risk of medical malpractices and to improve patient safety.
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.