Pending Malpractice Litigation May Bias Pain Reports

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Pending Malpractice Litigation May Bias Parents' Reports
Pending Malpractice Litigation May Bias Parents' Reports

(HealthDay News) — Following neonatal brachial plexus palsy, medical malpractice litigation is associated with worse parent reports of their child's function and pain, according to a study published in the March 5 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Emily A. Eismann, from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues identified 334 patients (aged 2–18 years) with neonatal brachial plexus palsy. Parent or patient-reported outcomes, as measured by the Pediatric Outcomes Data Collection Instrument, were compared for families with and without medical malpractice litigation.

The researchers found that 22% of the patients were plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits. Compared with the non-litigation cohort, in the litigation cohort, parents reported their children to have worse mobility (P=0.04), sports or physical function (P=0.003), and global function (P=0.02). After adjustment for patient age and injury severity, compared with children of parents in closed lawsuits, parents in active lawsuits reported their children to have greater pain (P=0.046). A significant difference was seen in outcome scores simultaneously obtained from patients and parents in the litigation cohort, with parents reporting worse upper-extremity function (P=0.03) and global function (P=0.008) than their children.

"Litigation status should be considered a confounding variable in the use of parent-reported outcomes in neonatal brachial plexus palsy research," the authors write.

One or more authors disclosed financial ties to an entity in the biomedical arena.

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