Medical malpractice and head and neck cancer

Daniel D. Lydiatt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to evaluate medical malpractice involving patients with head and neck cancer. In the United States, problems associated with the medical malpractice environment are reaching proportions that threaten the delivery of health care. Recent findings: Several methods to learn more about the trends and ramifications of litigation have been developed. Although patients with cancer of the head and neck bring suits rarely, when they do several themes seem prevalent. Delays in diagnosis are common allegations. Plaintiffs are frequently much younger than expected, and the oncologic outcome is frequently poor. Defendant physicians occasionally unwittingly add to the delay by not expecting the younger patient. The poor oncologic outcome may be related to the delay or to a biologically more aggressive disease. Relationships between these factors are explored. Consent issues are also relatively common. Summary: Physicians must strive to know as much as possible about tort reform, and to contribute to the process. Litigation analysis and other tools to expand our understanding can be used to educate ourselves and the legal community. Scientific standards must be developed along with clinical pathways to guide ourselves to prevent litigation. They may also guide the legal community to establish more rational standards of care based on a consensus of expert opinions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-75
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Delays
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Litigation
  • Medical malpractice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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