Rhinology and medical malpractice: An update of the medicolegal landscape of the last ten years

Anthony M. Tolisano*, Grant A. Justin, Douglas S. Ruhl, Benjamin B. Cable

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis Malpractice claims pertaining to rhinological procedures are a potentially important source of information that could be used to minimize the risk of future litigation and improve patient care. Study Design A retrospective review of a publicly available database containing jury verdicts and settlements. Methods The LexisNexis Jury Verdicts and Settlements database was reviewed for all lawsuits and out-of-court adjudications related to the practice of rhinology. Data including patient demographics, type of surgery performed, plaintiff allegation, nature of injury, outcomes, and indemnities were collected and analyzed. Results Of 85 cases meeting inclusion criteria, 42 were decided by a jury and 43 were adjudicated out of court. Endoscopic sinus surgery was the most commonly litigated surgery. The plaintiff was favored when the eye was injured (P = 0.0196), but the defendant was favored when neuropsychological injuries (P = 0.0137) or recurrent/worsened symptoms (P = 0.0050) were cited. No difference was found when death or skull base injuries occurred. When lack of informed consent was an allegation, the defendant was favored (P = 0.0001). A payout was made in two-thirds of cases overall, but the defendant was favored in two-thirds of cases decided by a jury. Payments were significant for both out-of-court settlements ($1.3 million) and jury verdicts ($2 million). Conclusions Endoscopic sinus surgery remains the most commonly litigated rhinology procedure and has the potential to result in large payouts. Meticulous dissection, recognition of complications, and documentation of informed consent remain paramount for providing optimal patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-19
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Rhinology
  • malpractice
  • negligence


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