Monetary Lessons from Litigation Involving Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

McLean, Thomas R.
July 2005
American Surgeon;Jul2005, Vol. 71 Issue 7, p606
Academic Journal
Limited information exists on the relationship between adverse events associated with laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) and subsequent litigation. Out of 104 suits concerning LC, 18 cases were settled for $628,138; 48 cases resulted in a plaintiff's verdict with the plaintiff receiving $2,891,421; and 18 cases resulted in a surgeon's verdict. However, when multiple defendant cases were excluded, there was <$20,000 difference between a negotiated settlement and plaintiff's verdict Given the minimal monetary differences between a settlement and a plaintiff's verdict, when a surgeon is the sole defendant in a malpractice case concerning LC, the surgeon should encourage their carriers not to settle before trial; as only a trial will exonerate the surgeon. However, this encouragement should be tempered when there are "red flags" that favor the plaintiff, including multiple defendants (especially a hospital), male plaintiffs, bile duct injuries, knowledgeable and well-financed plaintiff's attorneys, and certain plaintiff's venues.


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