Orthopedic and trauma surgery is the specialty for which claims for compensation are most often filed. Little data exists on the subject in France, especially in a teaching hospital. We conducted a retrospective study aimed at (1) identifying the epidemiological characteristics of patients filing claims against the orthopedic surgery and traumatology department of a teaching hospital in France, (2) analyzing the surgical procedures involved, the type of legal proceedings, and the financial consequences.
The epidemiological profile of proceedings seeking damages in France is consistent with the data from European and American studies.
Materials and methods
An observational, retrospective, single-center study of all claims for damages between 2007 and 2016 involving the orthopedic and trauma surgery department of a teaching hospital was carried out. Patients’ epidemiological data, the surgical procedure, type of legal proceeding, and financial consequences were analyzed.
Of the 51,582 surgical procedures performed, 71 claims (0.0014%) were analyzed (i.e., 1/726 procedures). A significant increase in the number of cases (p=0.040) was found over a 10-year period. Of these, 36/71 (53.7%) were submitted to the French regional conciliation and compensation commission (CRCI), 23/71 (32.8%) were filed with the administrative court, and 12/71 (13.4%) were submitted for an amicable settlement. The most common reason for which patients filed claims was hospital-acquired infections, with 36/71 (50.7%) cases. Twenty-nine complaints (40.8%) resulted in monetary damages being awarded to the patient, with an average award of € 28,301 (€ 2,400–299,508). Damage awards were significantly higher (p<0.05) for cases involving surgery on a lower limb than those involving an upper limb.
Claims against orthopedic surgeons have been increasing significantly over the last 10 years. Although rare, they represent a significant cost to society. Hospital-acquired infections are the main reason for disputes in our specialization.
Level of evidence
IV, retrospective study.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Compensation, Litigation, Personal injury claims