OBJECTIVE Neurosurgery is historically seen as a high-risk medical specialty, with a large percentage of neurosurgeons facing complaints during their careers. The Dutch medicolegal system is characterized by a strong emphasis on informal mediation, which can be accompanied or followed by disciplinary actions. To determine if this system is associated with a low overall risk for medical litigation through disciplinary law, the authors conducted a review of disciplinary cases involving neurosurgeons in the Netherlands. METHODS The authors reviewed legal cases that had been filed against consultant neurosurgeons and neurosurgical residents under the Dutch disciplinary law for medical professions between 2009 and 2019. RESULTS A total of 1322 neurosurgical care–related cases from 2009 to 2019 were reviewed. Fifty-seven (4.3%) cases were filed against neurosurgeons (40 first-instance cases, 17 appeal cases). In total, 123 complaints were filed in the 40 first-instance cases. Most of these cases were related to spine surgery (62.5%), followed by cranial surgery (27.5%), peripheral nerve surgery (7.5%), and pediatric neurosurgery (2.5%). Complaints were filed in all stages of care but were mostly related to preoperative and intraoperative care. CONCLUSIONS The risk for medically related litigation in neurosurgery in the Netherlands through disciplinary law is low but not negligible. Although the absolute number of cases is low, spinal neurosurgery was found to be a risk factor for complaints. The relatively high number of cases that involved the sharing of information suggests that specific improvements—focusing on communication—can be made in order to lower the risk for future litigation.

health law, disciplinary law, litigation, defensive medicine, neurosurgery
dx.doi.org/10.3171/2020.8.Focus20561, hdl.handle.net/1765/131656
NEUROSURGICAL FOCUS
Department of Neurosurgery

Dronkers, W.J., Amelink, Q., Buis, D.R, Broekman, M.L.D, & Spoor, J.K.H. (2020). Disciplinary law and neurosurgery: a 10-year analysis of cases in the Netherlands. NEUROSURGICAL FOCUS, 49(5). doi:10.3171/2020.8.Focus20561