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March 1996

Ophthalmic Malpractice Lawsuits With Large Monetary Awards

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Ophthalmology, The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark (Dr Kraushar); and the Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Company, New York, NY (Mr Robb).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1996;114(3):333-337. doi:10.1001/archopht.1996.01100130329019

Malpractice claims against ophthalmologists that were closed with patient indemnification of at least $250 000 (18% of all eye claims closed with payment to patients) were analyzed for risk prevention. The incident of alleged malpractice occurred within 1 month of the initial physician-patient encounter in 43% of claims and on the initial encounter in 17%. Cataract was the most frequent problem for which these patients sought treatment. Eighty-four percent of these patients sustained injuries resulting in legal blindness or worse. The most frequent complication of treatment (25%) was failure or delay in diagnosis of detached retina, or negligent treatment resulting in a retinal detachment. The most frequent factors influencing the decision to seek a settlement included altered records, poor documentation, informed consent problems, failure to see the patient promptly, and failure to obtain or follow the advice of a consultant.

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