[Analysis of judicial sentences issued against traumatologists between 1995 and 2011 as regards medical negligence].
INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES Traumatology and Orthopaedic Surgery is one of the specialities with most complaints due to its scope and complexity. The aim of this study is to determine the characteristics of the complaints made against medical specialists in Traumatology, taking into account those variables that might have an influence both on the presenting of the complaint as well as on the resolving of the process. MATERIAL AND METHODS An analysis was performed on 303 legal judgments (1995-2011) collected in the health legal judgements archive of the Madrid School of Medicine, which is linked to the Westlaw Aranzadi data base. RESULTS Civil jurisdiction was the most used. The specific processes with most complaints were bone-joint disorders followed by vascular-nerve problems and infections. The injury claimed against most was in the lower limb, particularly the knee. The most frequent general cause of complaint was surgical treatment error, followed by diagnostic error. There was lack of information in 14.9%. There was sentencing in 49.8% of the cases, with compensation mainly being less than 50,000 euros. CONCLUSIONS Traumatology and Orthopaedic Surgery is a speciality prone to complaints due to malpractice. The number of sentences against traumatologists is high, but compensations are usually less than 50,000 euros. The main reason for sentencing is surgical treatment error; thus being the basic surgical procedure and where precautions should be maximised. The judgements due to lack of information are high, with adequate doctor-patient communication being essential as well as the correct completion of the informed consent.