Retinopathy of prematurity malpractice cases: A medicolegal evaluation

Yıldız Silahlı N., Özsütçü M., Aslıyüksek H., Celkan T. T.

Zeynep Kamil medical journal (Online), vol.54, no.4, pp.209-215, 2023 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


INTRODUCTION: Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a disease that is caused by abnormal proliferation of retinal vessels in preterm infants. Difficulties and delays in diagnosing ROP are thought to bring along claims of medical malpractice. We aimed to provide an assessment of medical malpractice claims regarding the ROP cases, which were evaluated in the 7th Specialization Board of the Council of Forensic Science.
METHODS: This study is a retrospective descriptive study. The cases with ROP diagnose were included in the study which was evaluated in the 7th Specialization Board of the Council of Forensic Science within 3 years between 2017 and 2020.
RESULTS: The number of cases included in the study was twenty-six cases. The mean gestational age was 30.26±2.12 weeks. While the mean birth weight was 1501±407.93 g. Medical malpractice was found in 16 (61.5%) cases. In 7 (26.9%) cases, malpractice was given because the pediatrician did not consult an ophthalmologist on time. In 9 (34.6%) cases, there was malpractice due to the diagnosis or follow-up fault of the ophthalmologist. Stage 4–5 ROP was found in all cases at the time of diagnosis.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Most problems of ROP cases evaluated for malpractice were associated with diagnosis and follow-up. It is essential that specialized pediatric ophthal-mologists assess these cases. Multidisciplinary cooperation and standard manage-ment algorithms should be introduced. Delays in treatments were either due to failure of timely diagnosis and staging of ROP by ophthalmologists or incomplete documentation of patient files and consultation delays by pediatricians.