New study reveals 5 determinants of plastic surgery litigation cases

Introduction

A new study has revealed that not all litigated plastic surgery cases have an equal chance of ruling in favor of the defense or plaintiff. The study identified at least five different determinants which increase the chances of ruling in favor of one side or the other.

About the study

The study, titled ‘An Analysis of Malpractice Litigation and Expert Witnesses in Plastic Surgery’ (2017), was conducted by Paul Therattil et al. and reviewed 93 litigated plastic surgery cases from the Westlaw legal database. It analyzed them according to expert witness testimony, procedure type, alleged injury, and verdict, among other factors. Correlations were then drawn between these factors, in particular which of them led to rulings in favor of the defense or plaintiff.

What are the 5 determinants of litigated plastic surgery cases?

The following correlations were found:

1. Cases involving body contouring are more likely to rule in favor of the defendant

14% of the cases reviewed involved body contouring procedures. Of these, the majority of them were won by the defense side.

2. Cases involving breast surgery are more likely to rule in favor of the plaintiff

34.4% of the cases reviewed involved breast surgery procedures. Of these, the majority of them were won by the plaintiff side.

3. In general, rulings are more likely to be in favor of the defense

Out of the 93 cases reviewed, over 65% ruled in favor of the defendant.

4. Cases in which the plaintiff complained of pain or emotional distress were more likely to rule in favor of the plaintiff

In cases where the plaintiff reported symptoms of pain (14%) or emotional distress (11.8%), the ruling was more likely to be in their favor. Conversely, cases in which plaintiffs did not report such symptoms resulted in (on average) a ruling in favor of the defendant.

5. The parties which engaged plastic surgery expert witnesses were more likely to win

Perhaps it’s obvious, but the study found that the parties which engaged the expert witness services of a plastic surgeon were more likely to win. With regards to plastic surgery expert witnesses, the study stated:

“Expert witnesses serve as a critical part of the litigation process in medical malpractice cases, providing insight into the judge and jurors who may be unfamiliar with both the medical and specialty-specific aspects of the case. The concept of the expert witness within a field such as plastic surgery, where outcomes might be considered more subjective than in other surgical fields, has been a point of debate. Some have gone so far as to suggest having anonymous physician surveys to replace plaintiff expert witness testimony because of the high stakes and pressure to perform for paying clients” (Therattil et al. 2007).

Other interesting facts unearthed by the study

  1. Around 13% of plastic surgeons have open litigation cases against them.
  2. California (26.9%), New York (18.3%) and Massachusetts (7.5%) were the most litigious in terms of having the highest share of cases.

About Dr. Zaydon’s role as a Plastic Surgery Expert Witness

Dr. Zaydon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He is also a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Zaydon serves as an expert witness on liability cases around the country. He has reviewed many cases and has served as an expert witness for both the plaintiff and defense. He is sought as an expert witness in these cases because of his experience and fairness. Read more about Dr. Zaydon’s role as a plastic surgery expert witness, Plastic Surgery Expert Medical Advisor, or about Plastic Surgery Peer Reviews and Plastic Surgery Independent Medical Evaluations.

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