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Sherveen Shayegan Salek, Stephanie B Engelhard, Christopher Shah, Austin Sim, Ashvini Reddy; Review of Malpractice Litigation in Ocular Trauma over Eight Decades. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(12):3058.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To report the spectrum of allegations, outcomes, and monetary awards of medical malpractice litigation in ocular trauma to guide risk management and identify common allegations.
Retrospective review of malpractice verdicts, rulings, and settlements related to ophthalmology in the United States WestLaw database from 1930-2014. Data including subspecialty focus of ocular trauma, year filed, state, patient, gender, legal allegation, nature of injury, verdicts, indemnities, and (when applicable) financial award were collected and analyzed. Financial awards were adjusted to 2015 United States dollars.
A total of 1083 malpractice awards against ophthalmologists were identified. Of these awards, 45 (4.1%) were related to traumatic ocular injuryin 20 states (Figure 1). Seventeen of these cases involved patients under the age of 18. Of the 45 patients with trauma, 41 (91.1%) were male. The cases were subdivided into non-interventional (n=28), surgical/procedural (n=13), medical (n=1), and unknown intervention (n=3). The majority (55.6%) of legal outcomes favored the defendant physician. Of the 20 outcomes favoring the plaintiff, monetary outcomes were reported in 14 cases, with a mean monetary award of $128,301 (range from $25,000 to $651,893.00). Adjusted for 2015 U.S. dollars, this was $587,766 (range from $40,201.75 to $1,032,167.47). Negligence was the most common allegation by plaintiffs (n=24).
Within ophthalmology, ocular trauma represents a relatively small proportion of litigation. The overwhelming majority of patients are male. Most cases are related to non-intervention rather than surgical or medical complications, and negligence is the most common allegation by plaintiffs. Although most verdicts favored the defendant, there is a large monetary range of payouts.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2016 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Seattle, Wash., May 1-5, 2016.
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