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Aesthet Surg J. 2014 Jan 1;34(1):79-86. doi: 10.1177/1090820X13515702.

A look inside the courtroom: an analysis of 292 cosmetic breast surgery medical malpractice cases.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Neurological Surgery, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey.*

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Malpractice claims affect the cost and quality of health care.

OBJECTIVE:

The authors examine litigation in cosmetic breast surgery and identify factors influencing malpractice litigation outcomes.

METHODS:

The Westlaw database was searched for jury verdict and settlement reports related to medical malpractice and cosmetic breast surgeries. Cases included for analysis were examined for year, geographic location, patient demographics, procedure performed, alleged injury, causes of action, verdict, and indemnity payments.

RESULTS:

Of 292 cases, the most common injury sustained was disfigurement (53.1%). Negligent misrepresentation had a 98% greater chance of resolution in favor of the plaintiff (relative risk [RR], 1.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.41-2.79), and fraud had a 92% greater chance of disposition in favor of the plaintiff (RR, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.32-2.80). The most common causes of action cited were negligence (88.7%) and lack of informed consent (43.8%). One hundred sixty-nine (58.3%) cases resulted in favor of the defendant and 121 (41.7%) cases were disposed in favor of the plaintiff; 97 (33.4%) cases resulted in damages awarded and 24 (8.3%) cases resulted in settlement. No significant difference was found between the medians of indemnity payments awarded to plaintiffs ($245 000) and settlements ($300 000).

CONCLUSIONS:

Based on this study, negligent or intentional misrepresentation strongly favors plaintiffs in either awarded damages or settlements in cases of cosmetic breast surgery litigation. This study emphasizes that transparency and adequate communication are at the crux of the physician-patient relationship and are tools by which plastic surgeons may reduce the frequency of litigations, thereby containing health care costs at a minimum.

KEYWORDS:

breast augmentation; breast implant; breast reduction; cosmetic breast; mastopexy; medical malpractice

PMID:
24396074
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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