Results from this study of medical malpractice claims filed after incidental durotomy from spine surgery demonstrated delayed diagnosis and treatment of durotomy and improper durotomy repair correlated with risk of litigation and increased surgeon liability.
Wesley M. Durand
“Durotomy-associated medical malpractice cases often involve late-presenting durotomy or dehiscent durotomy repair with persistent [cerebral spinal fluid] CSF leak,” Wesley M. Durand, ScB, told Healio.com/Orthopedics. “Our results suggest that delayed diagnosis and/or treatment of these events is associated with increased surgeon liability. In the event of failed dural tear repair, surgeons should be prepared to defend their choice of repair technique, even if it is within the accepted standard of care.”
Durand and colleagues used three, large legal databases to identify 48 dural tear-related medical malpractice cases. Investigators analyzed characteristics for each case, including procedure and outcomes.
Results showed 56.3% of the cases ruled in favor of the defendant physician. Investigators noted most of the cases alleged neurological deficits. An outcome in favor of the defendant was seen in most cases without neurological sequalae. The average amount was $2,757, 298 for cases that involved a payment.
Of cases, 56.3% of cases needed additional surgery. In 43.8%, there was a delay in the diagnosis/treatment of durotomy. In 22.9% of cases, there was alleged improper durotomy repair. The plaintiff was more likely to have a favorable outcome in cases with alleged delay in diagnosis/treatment and improper durotomy repair compared to cases without these allegations. There was no correlation between repeat surgery and a favorable outcome for the plaintiff. – by Monica Jaramillo
Disclosures: Durand reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.