Medical malpractice and meningiomas: an analysis of 47 cases

Andre E. Boyke, Edward R. Bader, Ishan Naidu, Sharon Lam, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Abigail Funari, Vijay Agarwal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Among medical practices, surgical fields, including neurosurgery, are at a high risk for medical malpractice litigation. With meningiomas contributing to 10% of the total neurosurgery litigation cases, the aim of this study was to identify demographic characteristics, reasons for litigation, and surgical complications commonly reported in these cases. This analysis serves to increase neurosurgeons’ awareness of factors associated with medical malpractice litigation. METHODS: The online legal database Westlaw was utilized to query public litigation cases related to the medical management of meningiomas between December 1985 and May 2020. Variables extracted included the following: plaintiff and defendant demographics, litigation category, plaintiff medical complaints, and trial outcomes. The authors compared these characteristics between cases with decisions in favor of the defendant and those with decisions in favor of the plaintiff. RESULTS: A total of 47 cases met the inclusion criteria. Failure to diagnose (68.1%) was the most common type of malpractice claim, and surgical complications (19.1%), motor weakness (33%), and financial loss (33%) were cited as the most common postoperative complaints. Individual specialties that most often required defense due to malpractice claims were radiology (21.7%) and neurosurgery (19.6%). The jury verdict was in favor of the defense in 51.1% of cases and in favor of the plaintiff in 27.7% of cases. A settlement was reached in 19.1% of cases. The mean payout for a verdict in favor of the plaintiff was $3,409,650.22, while the mean payout for settlements was $867,555.56. The greatest average payout for specialties was in neurosurgery at $3,414,400, followed by radiology at $3,192,960. Cases with a verdict in favor of the plaintiff were more likely to involve an internal medicine physician as a defendant (p = 0.007). CONCLUSIONS: Over one-half of the cases resulted in a defendant's verdict with failure to diagnose cited as the most common reason for litigation. Radiology and neurosurgery were the most common specialties for legal cases and also had some of the largest average payouts based on specialty. Motor weakness and financial loss were the most common plaintiff postoperative complaints. These findings may inform surgeons on active measures to take, such as increasing focus on diagnostic accuracy and reducing specific postoperative complaints, such as motor weakness, through risk management and prophylactic measures, to reduce unfavorable legal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • medical malpractice
  • medicolegal
  • meningioma
  • neurosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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