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ABSTRACT. A study of hospitals in North Carolina from January 2002 to December 2007 reports that there was no statistically significant decrease in medical errors during this period, in spite of efforts to reduce them (Landrigan et al. 2010). Our study utilizes a medical liability insurer’s archive of death cases in North Carolina from 2002 to 2009 (156 cases involving 401 physician defendants). Given the implications of medical errors for health care delivery, we consider whether demographic variables (age, gender, marital status and race) and system variables (hospital involvement and number of physician defendants) are predictive of higher risks of death. Our dependent variables are three major categories of error associated with patient death in the archive (diagnostic, treatment and surgical). We find that men are significantly more at risk for diagnostic errors. There is some evidence that age and number of defendants is predictive of treatment errors. Policy implications are discussed. pp. 46–59

Keywords: medical malpractice; demographic and system variables; hospital

How to cite: Harris, Catherine T., and Ralph A. Peeples (2015), "Medical Errors, Medical Malpractice and Death Cases in North Carolina: The Impact of Demographic and Medical Systems Variables," Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice 7(2): 46–59.

CATHERINE T. HARRIS
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Department of Sociology,
Wake Forest University, United States
RALPH A. PEEPLES
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School of Law,
Wake Forest University, United States

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