Head and neck, oral, and oropharyngeal cancer: a review of medicolegal cases.

  • Epstein J
  • Kish R
  • Hallajian L
 et al. 
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OBJECTIVE: The purpose was to review cases of malpractice in head and neck cancer (HNC) in order to examine allegations and outcomes of the litigation and to assess the implications for best practices in the clinical care of patients with HNC.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Three U.S. legal databases were accessed to assess the basis of the cases and the outcomes reported.

RESULTS: Dental and medical health care providers are identified in cases with alleged failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis. In addition, inadequate prevention and management of oral complications of cancer therapy also may result in medicolegal action. In the dental cases, the mean recovery was $1,033,500.11, and in medical cases, it was $2,828,639.20.

CONCLUSIONS: In addition to failure in the diagnosis of malignant disease, our review identified failure to properly prevent and manage oral complications as potential causes of medicolegal actions. Evidence-based care with a multidisciplinary team may promote diagnosis of disease and prevention and management of complications.

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  • Joel B Epstein

  • Robert V Kish

  • Lucy Hallajian

  • James Sciubba

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