OBJECTIVE: Hearing loss is both a common patient complaint and possible complication that can affect nearly all specialties. The study examines medical malpractice trends in hearing loss. METHODS: 260 medical malpractice cases involving hearing loss sino-nasal disease between 1988 and 2007 were obtained from a computerized legal database. RESULTS: Defendants prevailed in 48% (124/260) of the cases. Plaintiffs received jury verdicts in 28% (73/260) with a mean award of $1.1 million. The parties reached a settlement in 24% (63/260) with a mean award of $740,000. Defense outcomes were higher for partial loss versus total loss (55% vs 39%, p=0.025) and mean awards were higher for total loss ($1.5 million vs $400,000, p<0.001). As the patient population aged, defendant verdicts increased (p<0.001) and awards increased (p<0.001). Hearing loss related to otologic surgery was claimed in 49 cases. Defendants prevailed in 53% (26/49), with a mean award of $310,000. CONCLUSIONS: Medical malpractice related to hearing loss can be encountered by multiple specialties. As the hearing loss worsens, both the likelihood of an award and the amount increases. Age also seems to predict the likelihood of both defendant verdicts and size of the awards. Future studies should focus on risk management strategies to reduce the exposure to medical malpractice related to hearing loss.
ASJC Scopus subject areas