Practice of Medicine


Reducing the Risks of Pediatric Pneumonia

Pediatric pneumonia accounts for 5% of medical malpractice claims among pediatricians insured by MagMutual. Pneumonia causes significant morbidity in children and remains one of the most common serious infections of childhood. Pneumonia can occur at any age, but is more common in younger children, accounting for 13% of all infectious illnesses in infants younger than 2 years of age.1

To help pediatricians reduce that number, MagMutual’s medical faculty and risk consultants have analyzed our claims data, determined the main causes of claims related to pneumonia and developed strategies to improve patient outcomes. 

Top Risks

The main causes of claims related to pediatric pneumonia are:

  • Patient monitoring problems
  • Medication errors

          Top Strategies for Reduction

          Based on these top risk drivers, implementing the following clinical and operational strategies can help you prevent unexpected outcomes and increase defensibility of a medical malpractice claim:

          Clinical strategies

          • Consider pneumonia in any child with fever over 72 hours, with elevated respiratory rate and/or oxygen saturation below 95%.
          • Don’t exclude diagnosis based on a normal lung exam or a positive viral test, especially in children 2 years old or younger.
          • Consider initiating empiric antibiotic coverage and obtaining a chest X-ray when the diagnosis is suspected.

          Operational strategies

          • Document vital signs, including pulse oximetry, general appearance and physical exam and, especially, a detailed lung exam. Document interpretation of any abnormal vital signs and physical exam findings, as well as any laboratory or radiographic evaluations.

            Other Top Risks

            Though pneumonia accounts for a sizable portion of claims among pediatricians according to our data, we’ve identified several other drivers of loss based on claims frequency:

            Risk Drivers by Top Cause
            Key Loss DriverTop Clinical Loss CauseTop Non-Clinical Contributing Factor% of Claims
            (A) CardiomyopathyDiagnosticDocumentation7%
            (B) MeningitisDiagnosticDocumentation5%
            (C) HyperbilirubinemiaDiagnosticCommunication5%
            (D) PneumoniaTreatmentDocumentation5%
            (E) HypoglycemiaTreatmentClinical Systems4%
            (F) Septic joint /osteomyelitisDiagnosticCommunication2%

            Risk Drivers by Frequency


            Download the full report with indemnity payment information and strategies for all the key loss drivers to help you reduce risk in the top areas that claims occur.

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            Data Collection & Methodology

            Data is based on MagMutual closed claims from 2011-2021 and corresponding exposure data. Clinical and non-clinical loss drivers are based on an in-depth review of each claim by a medical professional or clinical risk consultant. Risk reduction strategies are based on input from practicing physicians.



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            The information provided in this resource does not constitute legal, medical or any other professional advice, nor does it establish a standard of care. This resource has been created as an aid to you in your practice. The ultimate decision on how to use the information provided rests solely with you, the PolicyOwner.