There are well over 2 million cataract operations performed yearly in the United States, making it the most commonly performed major surgical procedure in the Medicare population. Ophthalmologists have developed techniques and technologies over the years that make it one of the safest surgical procedures for patients, with an overall complication rate of less than 10%. Serious complications, such as loss of vision or infection, are even less frequent. The surgical advances have changed the procedure from one for which several days of hospitalization with sandbags to restrict head movement were required to an outpatient procedure with an initial recovery period measured in hours. Visual outcomes have improved, and patient satisfaction remains high.
Despite this great progress and an enviable safety record (or perhaps because of them), lawsuits related to cataract surgery remain the number one cause of malpractice litigation against ophthalmologists. Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company (OMIC), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)–sponsored professional liability insurance company, which insures more ophthalmologists (about 3,700) than any other single carrier, has opened an average of 65 cataract-related cases yearly for the past 5 years. This incidence is twice that of any other ophthalmic subspecialty.
KeywordsCataract Surgery Topical Anesthesia Malpractice Litigation Vitreous Loss Bilateral Cataract Surgery
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