A study published in the medical journal Orthopedics on November 8, 2021 found that the most common reason for litigation involving orthopedic sports medicine surgical malpractice claims was intraoperative error (183 cases, 55.8%), and that neurovascular injury resulted in the highest monetary payouts. Nonetheless, of the 328 cases included in the study, 231 (70.4%) resulted in a defendant verdict, 75 (22.9%) resulted in a plaintiff verdict, and 22 (6.7%) resulted in a settlement.
The study’s authors used a national medicolegal database to search for medical malpractice verdicts and out-of-court settlements involving common sports injuries and their surgical management between January 1, 2000 and January 1, 2018. The researchers performed univariate analysis to identify predictors of case outcome and monetary awards. While they identified 777 cases, only 328 met the inclusion criteria.
The study determined that there was no statistically significant difference between monetary awards for plaintiff verdicts versus settlements (mean award of $1.29 million and $0.72 million, respectively, P=.07). The study also found that cases in which the plaintiff claimed neurovascular injury were significantly more likely to result in a higher monetary award (mean award of $2.37 million, P=.02). Cases involving an incorrect surgical site were significantly less likely to result in a defendant outcome, with 7 of 12 cases (58.3%) leading to a plaintiff outcome (P=.047).
The study’s authors concluded: “Orthopedic sports medicine surgeons are especially vulnerable to litigation, largely because of high patient expectations in the setting of complex surgeries. Understanding the factors associated with litigation may reduce physician risk as well as optimize patient satisfaction and outcomes … With more than two-thirds of cases resulting in a defendant verdict, many suits result in a favorable outcome for practitioners. Intraoperative error is the most common reason for litigation, and neurovascular injury resulted in the highest monetary payouts. Vigilance to avoid these events may improve patient outcomes and decrease liability to practitioners.”
Johns Hopkins Medicine reports: “In the U.S., about 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sports, and more than 3.5 million injuries each year, which cause some loss of time of participation, are experienced by the participants. Almost one-third of all injuries incurred in childhood are sports-related injuries. By far, the most common injuries are sprains and strains … Although death from a sports injury is rare, the leading cause of death from a sports-related injury is a brain injury. Sports and recreational activities contribute to approximately 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children. Almost 50 percent of head injuries sustained in sports or recreational activities occur during bicycling, skateboarding, or skating incidents. More than 775,000 children, ages 14 and younger, are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year. Most of the injuries occurred as a result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion during unorganized or informal sports activities.”
If you or a loved one may have been injured as a result of sports medicine negligence in the United States, you should promptly find a sports medicine malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your sports medicine medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a sports medicine malpractice case, if appropriate.
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