The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 32, Issue 10, 2958 - 2962

Lawsuits After Primary and Revision Total Hip Arthroplasties: A Malpractice Claims Analysis

Patterson, Diana C. et al.
Hip

Background

As the prevalence of total hip arthroplasty (THA) expands, so too will complications and patient dissatisfaction. The goal of this study was to identify the common etiologies of malpractice suits and costs of claims after primary and revision THAs.

Methods

Analysis of 115 malpractice claims filed for alleged neglectful primary and revision THA surgeries by orthopedic surgeons insured by a large New York state malpractice carrier between 1983 and 2011.

Results

The incidence of malpractice claims filed for negligent THA procedures is only 0.15% per year in our population. In primary cases, nerve injury (“foot drop”) was the most frequent allegation with 27 claims. Negligent surgery causing dislocation was alleged in 18 and leg length discrepancy in 14. Medical complications were also reported, including 3 thromboembolic events and 6 deaths. In revision cases, dislocation and infection were the most common source of suits. The average indemnity payment was $386,153 and the largest single settlement was $4.1 million for an arterial injury resulting in amputation after a primary hip replacement. The average litigation cost to the insurer was $61,833.

Conclusion

Nerve injury, dislocation, and leg length discrepancy are the most common reason for malpractice after primary THA. Orthopedic surgeons should continue to focus on minimizing the occurrence of these complications while adequately incorporating details about the risks and limitations of surgery into their preoperative education.


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