7 trends in spine surgery malpractice cases — 75% found in favor of surgeons


A study published in The Spine Journal examined the outcomes for spine surgery malpractice cases from 2010 to 2014. 


There were 103 malpractice cases involving spine surgeons between 2010 and 2014 in the WestlawNext database. The study authors examined these cases, adjusted monetary values for 2016 inflation, and found:


1. Three-quarters of the cases were found in favor of the surgeon.


2 Among the cases where the plaintiff won, the average settlement was $2.3 million; the average winnings in cases brought before a jury was $4.9 million.


3. The absence of informed consent was cited in 34 percent of the cases, and compensation in those cases reached $2 million on average.


4. The cases involving intraoperative complaints were associated with $3.6 million compensation on average.


5. The compensation increased significantly in cases involving orthopedic surgeons and nerve injury.


6. Cases associated with lower compensation to the plaintiffs include wrong level surgery cases.


7. Lawsuits were often a long process; those finding in favor of the defense took an average of 5.5 years and those finding in favor of the plaintiffs took an average of 4.34 years.


"Surgeons can protect themselves and optimize care of patients through clear and documented patient communication, education and intraoperative vigilance to avoid preventable complications," concluded the study authors.


More articles on spine surgery:


The essential traits of successful spine surgeon leaders


5-year reoperation rates for scoliosis surgery


The gap between best and worst performing hospitals for spine surgery

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