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Frequency and Causes of Complaints against Emergency Medicine Specialists in Forensic Medicine Files; a Cross-Sectional Study

Hossein Alimohammadi, Hamidreza Hatamabadi, Azita Khodayari, Mahmood Doukhtehchi Zadeh Azimi




Introduction: Complaints against physicians have increased in recent years and one of the specialties facing a relatively high rate of complaints is emergency medicine. Therefore, the present study was designed with the aim of evaluating the frequency and causes of complaints against emergency medicine specialists in forensic medicine cases.

Methods: In the present cross-sectional study, all the existing files in two forensic medicine centers, Tehran, Iran, from 2012 to 2015, in which complaints were filed against emergency medicine specialists, either alone or along with other physicians, were evaluated via census sampling method and their required data were extracted and recorded via a pre-designed checklist.

Results: 151 cases of medical complaints were filed against emergency medicine specialists during the study period. 85 (53.6%) complaints were filed following death of the patients and 66 (43.7%) were filed following an injury or disability. Multiple trauma, stomach ache, and altered level of consciousness were the most common chief complaints among young and old patients upon their ED visit. In 104 (68.9%) cases, the emergency medicine specialists were finally proved innocent. No significant correlation was found between the probability of proving innocent and the physician’s experience (p = 0.92), physician’s sex (p = 0.27), age range of the patient (p = 0.193), or the shift in which the patient had visited the ED (p = 0.32). The rate of proving innocent was significantly higher in complaints against governmental hospitals compared to non-governmental ones (73.6% vs. 61.9%; p= 0.004) and teaching hospitals compared to non-teaching ones (75.8% vs. 54.9%; p = 0.26).

Conclusion: In about 70% of medical complaint cases against emergency medicine specialists, the in charge physician was proved innocent. No significant correlation was found between the probability of proving innocent and physician’s experience, the physician’s sex, the patient’s age range, or the shift in which the patient had presented to the ED.


Emergency medicine; medical errors; malpractice; forensic medicine


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