Determining legal responsibility in otolaryngology: A review of 44 trials since 2008

Peter F. Svider, Qasim Husain, Olga Kovalerchik, Andrew C. Mauro, Michael Setzen, Soly Baredes, Jean Anderson Eloy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Medicolegal factors contribute to increasing healthcare costs through the direct costs of malpractice litigation, malpractice insurance premiums, and defensive medicine. Malpractice litigation trends are constantly changing as a result of technological innovations and changes in laws. In this study, we examine the most recent legal decisions related to Otolaryngology and characterize the factors responsible for determining legal responsibility. Methods: The Westlaw legal database (Thomson Reuters, New York, NY) was used to search for jury verdicts since 2008 in Otolaryngology malpractice cases. The 44 cases included in this analysis were studied to determine the procedures most commonly litigated and progressing to trial, as well as the year, location, alleged cause of malpractice, specialty of co-defendants, and case outcomes. Results: Out of the 44 cases included in this analysis, physicians were not found liable in 36 (81.8%) cases. Rhinologic procedures comprised 38.6% of cases litigated, and rulings were in physicians' favor in 66.7% of endoscopic sinus surgery (ESS) cases and all non-ESS rhinologic cases. A perceived lack of informed consent was noted in 34.1% of cases. The 8 jury awards averaged $940,000 (range, $148,000-$3,600,000). Conclusion: Otolaryngologists were not found liable in the majority of cases reviewed. Rhinologic surgeries were the most common procedures resulting in litigation. Adenotonsillectomies, thyroidectomies, and airway management are also well-represented. Perceived deficits in informed consent and misdiagnosis were noted in a considerable proportion of otolaryngologic malpractice cases resulting in jury decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-705
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Volume34
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology

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