Letters to the Editor |

Jury Findings of Malpractice Despite the Evidence

James E. Benecke Jr, MD
Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003;129(12):1355. doi:10.1001/archotol.129.12.1355-a.
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I found the article "Medical Malpractice and Facial Nerve Paralysis"1 in the January issue of the ARCHIVES to be informative and disturbing. Having given expert testimony on behalf of physician defendants in several facial nerve cases, I know how difficult it is to win these cases. Juries seem prejudicially inclined to award money despite the availability of evidence against such a finding.

What is most disturbing to me when I review the data collected by Dr Lydiatt1 is the group of cases that did not meet the burden to prove negligence or malpractice. These 31 patients who sued their surgeons admitted that they understood that facial paralysis was a possible consequence. Nonetheless, the plaintiffs prevailed in 65% of these cases (20 patients). Does Dr Lydiatt have any information regarding the testimony of the plaintiffs' experts? It would appear from the article that most of the experts for the plaintiffs were otolaryngologists. How did they justify their opinions, despite the inability of the case to meet the test for malpractice? After all, there can only be 1 truth.


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