September 6, 2017

Causes of malpractice lawsuits against surgical residents

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor’s Note

This database review of malpractice lawsuits against surgical residents highlights the importance of perioperative management, particularly among junior residents, and the importance of appropriate supervision by attending physicians as targets for education on litigation prevention.

During a 10-year period, 87 malpractice cases involving surgical residents were identified. Results showed that 70% involved elective surgery, 69% named a junior resident, and 55% involved lack of direct supervision by attending physicians.

These findings should be used to inform surgical training programs on the importance of developing effective methods of faculty supervision and communication between residents and attending physicians in an effort to reduce the number of lawsuits, the authors say.

Question Why do medical malpractice lawsuits targeting surgical trainees occur and how can they be prevented? Findings A database review of malpractice cases involving surgical residents found that 70% of cases involved elective surgery and 69% named a junior resident, while lack of direct supervision by attending physicians was cited in 55% of cases.

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