Patient injury claim data and insurance records constitute detailed sources of information on patient injuries and their contributing or causal factors. This study aimed to identify the unintended incidents that lead to patient injuries in vascular surgery in the treatment of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in Finland.
The records of all accepted patient injury claims involving PAD between 2004 and 2017 inclusive were obtained from the nationwide Finnish Patient Insurance Centre registry and were reviewed. Factors contributing to injury were classified by patient careflow.
Sixty-nine patient injury incidents were identified in 60 treated patients with PAD. Sixteen injuries (23.2%) were related to outpatient or preoperative care. Twenty-seven injuries (39.1%) were caused by incidents in performing open or endovascular procedures, and 26 injuries (37.7%) were related to postoperative care. Delay in treatment affected 11 (18.3%) patients. Incidents involving surgical technique were identified in the treatment of 13 (21.7%) patients. Retained foreign material caused injuries to four (6.7%) patients. Five (8.3%) patients suffered from postoperative hemorrhage and eleven (18.3%) from infection damage. Delay in treatment resulted in two major amputations. Technical problems in bypass operations led to the loss of the bypass graft and to reoperation. Three nerve injuries led to permanent disability. One (1.7%) patient died because of fatal postoperative bleeding after being discharged from the hospital.
Compensated patient injuries in the treatment of PAD are rare. Injuries occur during all stages of care and are caused by both surgical system procedural failures and common complications.