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Cholecystectomy-related Malpractice Litigation: Predictive Factors Of Case Outcome

Davis A. Hartnett, Adam E M Eltorai, Adena J. Osband, Shaan A Ahmed, Alan H. Daniels
Published 2019 · Medicine
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Complications following cholecystectomy may lead to malpractice litigation. Little research exists regarding cholecystectomy-related malpractice, the complications that lead to litigation, and the outcomes of such cases. This study is a retrospective analysis utilizing the legal database Verdictsearch (ALM Media Properties, LLC, New York, NY). Medical malpractice cases between July 2004 and November 2017 were identified using the search term “gallbladder.” Case information was recorded, including patient information, medical details, trial outcome, and resulting payments. Of 46 cases examined, 39 went to trial with a favorable plaintiff (patient) verdict in 43% (20/46) and a favorable physician verdict in 41% (19/46) of the cases. Only 7% (3/46) of the cases resulted in a settlement, with 4% (2/26) concluding in mixed verdicts or arbitration. The mean plaintiff victory payment was $723,844 ± $1,119,457, while the mean settlement payment was $1,350,000 ± $563,471. Intraoperative care was the most frequently litigated phase of care (67%, 31/46 cases). Problematic visualization of the surgical field was the most frequent intraoperative allegation (67.7%, 21/46 cases). Cases of problematic visualization often resulted in favorable plaintiff trial victory (66.7% vs. 19% in defendant victory). Only 9.5% of the problematic visualization cases settled. Bile duct injuries accounted for 43.5% of the injuries (plaintiff victory rate 60.0%; mean payment $736,434 ± $1,365,424). In cholecystectomy litigation, allegations of problematic intraoperative visualization are both the most common allegation and the most likely to end in physician loss. Bile duct injuries remain the most frequent patient injury leading to cholecystectomy litigation
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