The paralyzing legal costs of facial nerve injury in head and neck tumors
Am J Otolaryngol
© 2020 Elsevier Inc. Purpose: Facial nerve paralysis from head and neck tumors can result from disease progression or iatrogenic causes, leading to litigation. The aim of this study was to investigate lawsuits regarding facial paralysis as a consequence of these tumors to understand and better educate physicians behind the reasons for litigation. Methods: Jury verdict reviews were obtained from the Westlaw database from 1985 to 2018. Gathered data, including verdicts, litigation reasons, defendant specialties, and amounts awarded, were analyzed via Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. Results: Of the 26 lawsuits analyzed, the leading reason for litigation was failure to diagnose (53.8%), followed by iatrogenic injury (34.6%). The average award was $2,704,470. Otolaryngologists were the most common defendants. Defendants that included an otolaryngologist had shorter delays of diagnosis compared to those that did not (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Failure to diagnose parotid injury was the leading cause of litigation. In instances where the jury found for the plaintiff, the amount was material. There were equivalent incidences of cases in favor of plaintiffs and defendants.
Faculty; Northwell Resident; SOM Student
School of Medicine; Northwell Health