Malpractice claims are a regularly increasing concern in gastrointestinal surgery. The goal of this study was to compare the current status of claims in two different French-speaking communities by a retrospective descriptive study of surgeons’ experiences, from the beginning of their practice up until December 31 2014. Data included the number, the reasons, and the results of medicolegal claims and their jurisdictions. Forty-three surgeons participated in this study. Two hundred medicolegal claims were analyzed. The mean number was 5.8 per surgeon. Bariatric surgery, colorectal surgery and parietal surgery were the most exposed. Forty-six (23%) faults were noted, while no fault was pronounced in 139 (69.5%) cases. The main reasons for lodging complaints were nosocomial infections, anastomotic leaks, poor postoperative care, hollow organ perforation, peripheral neurologic complication, and insufficient preoperative information. Forty-four percent of the complaints were analyzed by the conciliation and compensation commissions and 43.5% by the High Court. In the French-speaking group, there were 13 complaints, two of which gave rise to compensation. French surgeons are highly exposed to complaints: in French law, clumsiness or technical maladdress is considered as a fault. The patient should be informed preoperatively of all possible severe risks of a medical procedure. In Belgium, complications are exceptional and are considered random therapeutic events. Adhering to the recommendations emanating from the French High Authority of Health and Learned Societies as well as accreditation issued by the same High Authority should allow to decrease the number of undesirable events related to care and malpractice.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Visceral surgery, Medical responsibility, Clumsiness, Lawsuit, Fault