How ENT surgeons can avoid claims

Clinical negligence claims against ear, nose and throat surgeons in private practice are explored here by Dr Gemma Taylor and Greta Barnes – and they offer advice on managing risk in this specialty.

A claim for clinical negligence can be brought at any time, often without warning and sometimes many years after the incident occurred, which can be extremely distressing for an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon.  

Many factors can affect the likelihood of a claim being brought against an ENT specialist, including the extent of their private practice and their individual case mix.

But, broadly, an ENT consultant working privately can anticipate being on the receiving end of a claim about once every ten years. 

This article focuses on an analysis of a cohort of more than 100 clinical negligence claims recently brought against ENT surgical members working in independent practice. 

In 75% of claims reviewed, the claim was successfully defended without any payment of damages or claimant legal costs. 

Reasons for claims

The reasons for ENT claims range from post-operative pain or scarring to severe complications resulting in significant further treatment, trauma and in some cases, the patient’s death. 

The key themes of claims are: 

Dissatisfaction with outcome