Study: spine surgeons win 75% of malpractice lawsuits — 6 key insights


A retrospective study in The Spine Journal evaluated all publicly available spine surgery malpractice case outcomes between 2010 and 2014.

The study authors used the legal search engine WestlawNext to analyze 103 malpractice cases. Claims were categorized as intraoperative or preoperative complaints.


Here are six things to know:


1. The verdict favored the surgeon defendant in 77 — 75 percent — of the cases.


2. For the 26 cases won by the plaintiff, the average settlement amount was $2,384,775. The average settlement amount in cases brought before a jury was $3,945,456. All monetary values were inflation-adjusted for 2016.


3. Lack of informed consent was cited in 34 percent of cases. Cases involving consent averaged a settlement amount of $2,029,884, while cases with only intraoperative complaints averaged $3,667,530.


4. Plaintiffs received greater compensation in cases involving orthopedic surgeons or nerve injury. Wrong-level surgery may be associated with lower plaintiff compensation.


5. Cases ruled in favor of defendants averaged 5.51, significantly longer than the 4.34 year average length of cases ruled in favor of plaintiffs.


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