Study Examines Reasons for Legal Action Related to Cutaneous Laser Surgery

H. Ray Jalian, M.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and colleagues searched online legal documents to find the common reasons for legal action, injuries and claims related to cutaneous laser surgery.

The authors identified 174 cases related to injury stemming from the procedure from 1985 to 2012 with the incidence of litigation appearing to increase and peak in 2010. Laser hair removal was the most litigated procedure. Nonphysician operators accounted for a substantial subset of the cases, with physician supervisors named as defendants even though they did not perform the procedure. Of the 120 cases with public decisions, 61 (50.8 percent) resulted in decisions in favor of the plaintiff with an average indemnity payment of $380,719, according to the study results.

“Claims related to cutaneous laser surgery are increasing and result in indemnity payments that exceed the previously reported average across all medical specialties,” the authors note.

(JAMA Dermatol. Published February 20, 2013. 149[2]:188-193.