Medical Malpractice and Trigeminal Neuralgia

Purpose: Our study fills the vacancy of litigation research related to trigeminal neuralgia management, giving health care providers the information needed to understand the potential litigious outcomes that follow treatment methods.

Methods: We queried the Westlaw database to identify litigation cases related to trigeminal neuralgia management. Key variables extracted included medical complaints, trial outcomes, and demographics. Continuous variables were compared between cases in favor of defendant and cases in favor of plaintiff using t-test or Wilcoxon rank sum test. Categorial variables were compared using c2 or Fisher exact test.

Results: About 49 cases met the inclusion criteria—for those cases surgical complications (42.9%) were cited as the most common reasons for malpractice claims. Cranial nerve deficits (34.7%) were the most frequent postoperative complaints. Verdicts ruled in favor of the plaintiff in 26.5% of cases with a mean payout of $1,982,428.46. Dentists were included in the most cases, 63.3%, and the average payout was $415,908, whereas neurosurgeons were involved in 20.4% of cases with an average payout of $618,775. Cases with verdicts in favor of the plaintiff were more likely to be older than cases with verdicts in favor of the defendant (P = .03).

Conclusions: Over one-half of cases resulted in verdicts in favor of the defendant with surgical complications cited as the most common reason for litigation. Dentistry was the most common individual clinical specialty for defendants, whereas neurosurgery contributed to the largest average payout based on specialty (for n > 1). Cranial nerve deficits were the most common plaintiff postoperative complaints. These analyses may help doctor teams involved in management of trigeminal neuralgia to have a more informed discussion with the patient at every visit so that such litigations may be avoided.

Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

J Oral Maxillofac Surg 79:1026.e1-1026.e8, 2021

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