Cardiothoracic surgery is one of the more highly litigated medical specialties, and coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) constitutes a substantial portion of cardiothoracic surgery cases. Therefore, understanding litigations relating to CABG would be of benefit to surgeons working to uphold the standards of care that their patients seek and minimize their own legal liability. This study analyzed CABG litigations to identify predictive factors of litigation and verdict type.
This study utilized the Westlaw legal database to compile litigations from 1994-2019 across the United States, and resulted in 307 total litigations. After individual screening, 211 litigations met the criteria for inclusion, and were analyzed for demographic, clinical, chronological, and verdict characteristics.
Litigations were present in 33 U.S. states, with California, New York, and Florida having the most litigations. Defendant verdicts were reached in 67.78% of litigations, followed by 20.38% of plaintiff verdicts and 11.85% of settlements. Plaintiff verdicts were associated with the incidence of myocardial infarction during hospitalization. The winter season had the most litigations (42.18%), and the most defendant verdicts (37.76%). Patient mortality occurred in 47.39% of litigations. The most common alleged reason for litigation was a procedural error (55.45%).
Defendant verdicts were significantly associated with an alleged reason of procedural errors, an alleged reason of a failure to monitor, and congestive heart failure present in patients. The common nature of defendant verdicts, and the significantly greater occurrence of defendant verdicts during the highly-litigated winter season, suggest that surgeons frequently satisfy the legal standard of care.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.