Assessment of malpractice claims associated with rotator cuff surgery

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David G. Deckey
Adam E.M. Eltorai
Joseph A. Gil
Alan H. Daniels *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Alan H. Daniels | alan_daniels@brown.edu

Abstract

Rotator cuff surgery is a commonly performed and may lead to malpractice litigation. Despite this, there is a paucity of data evaluating outcomes of malpractice litigation following rotator cuff surgery. A retrospective investigation of the VerdictSearch legal claims database following rotator cuff surgery was performed. Plaintiff demographics, reason for litigation, and the effect of surgical complications were assessed as were the proportion of plaintiff rulings and size of payments. In total, 40 cases were analyzed. Mean age of plaintiffs was 52±11.2 years; 30 (75%) plaintiffs were male. Twenty-six cases (65% of suits) named pain and weakness as a complication of the procedure. In total, 60% (24) resulted in a defendant ruling, 25% (10) in a plaintiff ruling, and 15% (6) in a settlement. Total liabilities of the 40 cases were $15,365,321 with individual awards ranging from $75,000 to $5,000,000. Mean plaintiff award was $694,032±$586,835 (range: $75,000 to $1,900,000). Mean settlement amount was $1,404,167±$1,816,481 (range: $75,000 to $5,000,000). This study is the first examination of legal claims following rotator cuff surgery. Objective symptoms following surgery, such as decreased range of motion and rotator cuff weakness, as well as subjective complaints of pain and suffering were the most common reason for litigation, and when successful, led to indemnity payments averaging under $1 million each.

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