Publication Date



Journal of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons


INTRODUCTION: The purpose of this study was to determine the most common allegations for malpractice litigation brought against orthopaedic surgeons for oncologic matters and the resulting verdicts.

METHODS: The Westlaw Legal research database was queried for malpractice cases filed against orthopaedic surgeons for oncologic matters in the United States after 1980. Plaintiff demographics, state of filing, allegations, and outcomes of lawsuits were recorded and reported accordingly.

RESULTS: A total of 36 cases met the inclusion and exclusion criteria and were subsequently included in the final analysis. The overall rate of cases filed remained consistent through the past four decades and was primarily related to a primary sarcoma diagnosis in adult women. The primary reason for litigation was failure to diagnose a primary malignant sarcoma (42%) followed by failure to diagnose unrelated carcinoma (19%). The most common states of filing were primarily located in the Northeast (47%), where a plaintiff verdict was also more commonly encountered as compared with other regions. Damages awarded averaged $1,672,500 with a range of $134, 231 to $6,250,000 and a median of $918,750.

CONCLUSION: Failure to diagnose primary malignant sarcoma and unrelated carcinoma was the most common reason for oncologic litigation brought against orthopaedic surgeons. Although most of the cases ruled in favor of the defendant surgeon, it is important for orthopaedic surgeons to be aware of the potential errors that not only prevent litigation but also improve patient care.


Adult, Humans, Female, United States, Orthopedic Surgeons, Malpractice, Surgeons



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