Introduction & Objective : Litigation often causes changes in practice patterns. Urologists, like many other specialists, will refer difficult patients to other providers and limit the scope of their practice due to concerns of litigation. The aim of this study was to examine medical malpractice lawsuits involving urologists.
Methods : A retrospective analysis of Westlaw database was conducted to identify medical malpractice suits involving urologists between 2000-2015. General characteristics of cases were identified including geographic distribution, sex of plaintiff, and age range of patients. Cases were further divided into procedural and nonprocedural lawsuits. The primary outcomes of interest were the claims resulting in litigation and details of case outcomes. Case outcomes included whether a payout was made to a plaintiff, payout amount, and postoperative complications.
Results : 63 cases were included for analysis with a urologist as a defendant. 70% (n=44) of cases were procedural cases, with 30% (n=13) involving the prostate. The most common postoperative injuries included sexual dysfunction, chronic pain, and lower urinary tract symptoms. 30% (n=19) of cases were identified as nonprocedural. The most common nonprocedural case claims included failure to diagnose 22.5% (n=9) and treat in a timely manner 20% (n=8). 17 cases provided indemnity payment data. 59% (n=10) of cases resulted in a payout. The average payout was $1,096,210 with a median payment of $731,415.
Conclusions : Common causes of litigation among urologists were identified in this study. In most cases, urologists faced litigation for an error or complication occurring within a procedural case involving the prostate or urinary tract. Urologists faced highest payout for unnecessary radiation therapy and misdiagnosis of prostate cancer.