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Medicolegal lessons learned from thyroidectomy-related lawsuits: an analysis of judicial precedents in South Korea from 1998 to 2019

 Sungkyoung Choi  ;  Suhwan Shin  ;  Won Lee  ;  Soon-Min Choi  ;  Sang-Wook Kang 
 GLAND SURGERY, Vol.9(5) : 1286-1297, 2020-10 
Journal Title
Issue Date
Dissent and disputes ; jurisprudence ; malpractice ; recurrent laryngeal nerve injuries ; thyroidectomy
Background: Thyroid cancer is one of the most common cancers in South Korea, and thyroidectomy is still frequently performed. As new diagnostic methods have led to a significant increase in the early detection of thyroid cancer worldwide, medical disputes related to thyroid surgery are also likely to increase. The purpose of this study was to investigate the causes of medical disputes related to thyroidectomy and to identify ways to prevent unnecessary disputes and malpractice. Methods: We analyzed 35 judicial decisions involving thyroidectomy in South Korea from January 1998 to July 2019. Results: The most common cause of lawsuits was "performance error during surgery" (n=19), especially "recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) injury" (n=7), of which five cases were ruled medical malpractice. For lawsuits involving misdiagnosis (n=14), five regarding fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) and frozen section examination were ruled malpractice. The most common malpractice related to informed consent was "lack of explanation about surgery complications" (n=10). Conclusions: Surgeons should follow guidelines to protect themselves from diagnostic error dispute; performing FNAC more often might also prevent lawsuits. When the courts judge the surgeon's negligence in cases of RLN injuries, whether bilateral or unilateral, it is necessary to consider fully the surgeon's efforts to prevent RLN injuries. Providing information and building trust through sufficient patient-doctor communication is crucial.
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Appears in Collections:
1. College of Medicine (의과대학) > Dept. of Surgery (외과학교실) > 1. Journal Papers
Yonsei Authors
Kang, Sang Wook(강상욱) ORCID logo https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5355-833X
Choi, Soon Min(최순민)
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