Malpractice litigation in vitreoretinal surgery and medical retina

Stephanie B. Engelhard, Grant A. Justin, Ingrid E. Zimmer-Galler, Austin J. Sim, Ashvini K. Reddy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: To report and analyze the causes and outcomes of vitreoretinal surgery and medical retina malpractice litigation. PATIENTS AND METHODS: The WestLaw database was reviewed for all vitreoretinal malpractice litigation in the United States between 1930 and 2014. RESULTS: One hundred forty-two retina cases were included. Overall, 64.1% of cases were resolved in favor of defendants. Eighty-three (58.5%) cases were resolved via jury trial, 30.1% of which were associated with plaintiff verdicts with mean adjusted jury award of $5,222,894 (median, $691,974). Eight cases (5.6%) resulted in settlements with mean adjusted indemnity of $726,003 (median: $437,165). Jury awards were higher than settlement awards (P =.04). Commonly litigated scenarios included retinal detachment (46.5%) and retinopathy of prematurity (9.2%). CONCLUSIONS: The complexity of treating vitreoretinal problems and the high potential for vision loss inherent in many diagnoses make treating retinal problems high-risk. Many cases in this series resulted in multi-million-dollar plaintiff awards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-278
Number of pages7
JournalOphthalmic Surgery Lasers and Imaging Retina
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020


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