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Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 2003; 101: 239–274.
PMCID: PMC1358993

Medical malpractice predictors and risk factors for ophthalmologists performing LASIK and PRK surgery.


PURPOSE: To identify physician predictors in laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) surgery that correlate with a higher risk for malpractice liability claims and lawsuits. METHODOLOGY: A retrospective, longitudinal, cohort study comparing physician characteristics of 100 consecutive Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company (OMIC) LASIK and PRK claims and suits to demographic and practice pattern data for all active refractive surgeons insured by OMIC between 1996 and 2002. Background information and data were obtained from OMIC underwriting applications, a physician practice pattern survey, and claims file records. Using an outcome of whether or not a physician had a prior history of a claim or suit, logistic regression analyses were used separately for each predictor as well as controlling for refractive surgery volume. RESULTS: Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that the most important predictor of filing a claim was surgical volume, with those performing more surgery having a greater risk of incurring a claim (odds ratio [OR], 31.4 for >1,000/year versus 0 to 20/year; 95% confidence interval [CI], 7.9 - 125; P = .0001). Having one or more prior claims was the only other predictor examined that remained statistically significant after controlling for patient volume (OR, 6.4; 95% CI 2.5 - 16.4; P = .0001). Physician gender, advertising, preoperative time spent with patient, and comanagement appeared to be strong predictors in multivariate analyses when surgical volume was greater than 100 cases per year. CONCLUSION: The chances of incurring a malpractice claim or suit for PRK or LASIK correlates significantly with higher surgical volume and a history of a prior claim or suit. Additional risk factors that increase in importance with higher surgical volume include gender, advertising, preoperative time spent with patient, and comanagement with optometrists. These findings may be used in the future to help improve the quality of care for patients undergoing refractive surgery and provide data for underwriting criteria and risk management protocols to proactively manage and reduce the risk of claims and lawsuits against refractive surgeons.

Articles from Transactions of the American Ophthalmological Society are provided here courtesy of American Ophthalmological Society