neurosurgery brain surgery ct scan

How Does the Risk of a Malpractice Suit Affect Neurosurgeons? Interview with:
Dr. Pravesh S. Gadjradj, MD
Department of Neurosurgery, Leiden University Medical Center,
University Neurosurgical Center Holland
Leiden, Netherlands

neurosurgery brain surgery ct scan What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Many healthcare professionals throughout the world face issues surrounding medical malpractice at some point in their careers. Unfortunately, a number of these cases turn into medical malpractice lawsuits. As a specialty that treats acute pathology and refractory pain, neurosurgery is at risk for high liability. By the means of a survey among members of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), we aimed to illustrate how malpractice lawsuits affect neurosurgeons professionally, emotionally and financially. What are the main findings? 

Response: Some 490 members of the CNS shared their experiences with us. Among these members, 81% faced a medical malpractice lawsuit. The main concerns expressed about being sued included losing confidence and practicing defensive medicine, personal assets being at risk, and being named in the National Practitioner Data Bank. Of the respondents, 40% stated they were frequently or always concerned about being sued, and 77 % stated their fear had led to a change in how they practice medicine. For 58 %, this change led to the practice of defensive medicine, while for others it led to more extensive documentation (14%) and/or to referring or dropping complex cases (12%). Given the medical malpractice environment, 59% of respondents considered referring complex patient cases, whereas 37% considered leaving the practice of medicine. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Medical malpractice lawsuit don’t only affect patients, but also doctors. The current medicolegal landscape has a profound impact on neurosurgical practice. The fear of being sued, the financial aspects of practicing defensive medicine, and the proportion of neurosurgeons who consider leaving the practice of medicine emphasize the need for a shift in the medicolegal landscape to a system in which the fear of being sued does not play a dominant role and the interests of patients are protected. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The results of the current study have illustrated the problem and its consequences. Further research should be focused on how the legal landscape can be changed to a system to which neurosurgeons will be able to deal more effectively with law suits. For instance, an often mentioned complaint about the process of a law suit is the time span that is needed for the whole process. Perhaps by shortening the process the burden for both doctors and patients will decrease. Further research should also focus on how to train young doctors to deal with law suits. Perhaps including courses on this matter in the medical curriculum can help. 

I have nothing to disclose.


Gadjradj, P. S., Ghobrial, J. B., & Harhangi, B. S. (2020). Experiences of neurological surgeons with malpractice lawsuits, Neurosurgical Focus FOC49(5), E3. Retrieved Nov 3, 2020, from 

[wysija_form id=”3″]



The information on is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.


Last Updated on November 3, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD