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Ann Surg Treat Res. 2018 Mar;94(3):113-117. doi: 10.4174/astr.2018.94.3.113. Epub 2018 Feb 28.

Analysis of lawsuit cases in the Department of Surgery in Korea.

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Center of Bio & Basic Science R&D Coordination, Korea Institute of S&T Evaluation and Planning (KISTEP), Seoul, Korea.
Department of Medical Law & Ethics, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Asian Institute for Bioethics and Health Law, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Surgery, Severance Hospital, Yonsei University of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Korea Medical Dispute Mediation and Arbitration Agency, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Surgery, Chung-Ang University Hospital, Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.



The aim of this study is to prepare medical staff in order to prevent medical malpractice litigation through analysis of litigation cases related to the department of surgery in Korea.


A total of 94 litigation cases related to the department of surgery, where a certain amount of payment was ordered to the defendant between 2005 through 2010, were analyzed. We examined time of occurrence, amount claimed and awarded in damages, plaintiff claims, and court opinion.


An average of 3.2 years was spent from the date of the incident occurring to the end of the litigation procedures. The average amount awarded in judgments for damages was 59,708,983 ± 67,307,264 (range, 1,700,000-365,201,482) Korean won. Cases were found involving the following opinion of the court: violation of duty of care (49 cases), violation of informed consent (7 cases), violation of duty of care and informed consent (5 cases), and settlement, reconciliation, and others (32 cases). By analyzing defendants' negligence in court opinions, diagnosis (30.8%) was the most common, followed by post-operation management (27.7%).


Physicians have to conduct treatment and surgery based on exact diagnosis and be careful to observe patients' conditions and symptoms after surgery. It is essential to identify the current status and characteristics of medical litigation for reducing further litigation and improving patient safety. In order to create a safe medical environment, national efforts should be made not only by individuals but also at the national level.


Jurisprudence; Legal; Liability; Malpractice

Conflict of interest statement

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

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