Like all United States physicians, ophthalmologists may be implicated in lawsuits claiming fraudulent medical practice. In order to educate, raise awareness, and mitigate fraudulent practice, we reviewed a legal database and analyzed fraud claims in ophthalmology lawsuits.
A retrospective legal literature review was performed on jury verdicts and settlements from the online legal database LexisNexis Academic from 1985 through 2020 that were filed by or against an ophthalmologist, involved a fraud claim, and included a final decision or settlement. Cases were evaluated for factors including demographics of plaintiffs and defendants, type of fraud claim, ophthalmologist party status (plaintiff or defendant), decision outcome, and amount awarded (when applicable).
Of the 27 cases analyzed, all ophthalmologist defendants involved were male and the most common sub-specialty for an ophthalmologist defendant was refractive surgery. The most common fraud type was a fraud claim involving a malpractice lawsuit (12 of 27), followed by contract fraud and billing fraud. While the ophthalmologists in malpractice-related fraud cases experienced more rulings in favor of the defendant on the fraud claims (8 of 12), ophthalmologists in billing fraud cases experienced fewer rulings in their favor (0 of 5).
Ophthalmology lawsuits involving fraud claims occurred in various settings, including malpractice lawsuits, contract cases, and Medicare and Medicaid billing. Defendants were all male and most commonly refractive surgeons.

© 2023 Sharma et al.