Litigations following spinal neurosurgery in France: “out-of-court system,” therapeutic hazard, and welfare state - Université de Montpellier Accéder directement au contenu
Article Dans Une Revue Neurosurgical Focus Année : 2020

Litigations following spinal neurosurgery in France: “out-of-court system,” therapeutic hazard, and welfare state


OBJECTIVE Spinal surgeries carry risks of malpractice litigation due to the random nature of their functional results, which may not meet patient expectations, and the hazards associated with these complex procedures. Claims are frequent and costly. In France, since 2002, a new law, the Patients’ Rights Law of March 4, 2002, has created an alternative, out-of-court scheme, which established a simplified, rapid, free-of-charge procedure (Commission for Conciliation and Compensation [CCI]). Moreover, this law has optimized the compensation provided to patients for therapeutic hazards by use of a national solidarity fund. The authors analyzed the consequences of this alternative route in the case of claims against private neurosurgeons in France. METHODS From the data bank of the insurer Mutuelle d’Assurances du Corps de Santé Français (MACSF), the main insurance company for private neurosurgeons in France, the authors retrospectively analyzed 193 files covering the period 2015–2019. These computerized files comprised the anonymized medical records of the patients, the reports of the independent experts, and the final judgments of the CCI and the entities supporting the compensation, if any. RESULTS During the 5-year study period (2015–2019), the insurance company recorded 494 complaints involving private neurosurgeons for spinal surgery procedures, of which 126 (25.5%) were in civil court, 123 (24.9%) were under amicable procedure, and 245 (49.6%) were in the out-of-court scheme administered by the CCI. Out of these 245 cases, only 193 were closed due to delays. The conclusions of the commission were rejection/incompetence decisions in 47.2% of the cases, therapeutic hazards in 21.2%, nosocomial infections in 17.6%, and practitioner fault in 13.5%. National solidarity compensated for 48 complaints (24.8%). The final decision of the CCI is not always consistent with the conclusions of the experts mandated by it, illustrating the difficulty in defining the concept of hazards. The authors found that the therapeutic hazards retained and compensated by the national solidarity included decompensated spondylotic myelopathies (15% of the 40 cases) and cauda equina syndromes (30%). As allowed by law, 11.5% of the patients who were not satisfied triggered a classical procedure in a court. CONCLUSIONS In the French out-of-court system, trial decisions resulting in rulings of proven medical malpractice are rare, but patients can start a new procedure in the classical courts. The therapeutic hazard remains a subtle definition, which may be problematic and require further discussion between experts and magistrates. In spite of the imperfections, this out-of-court system proposes a major evolution to move patients and medical providers from legal battles to reconciliations.

Dates et versions

hal-03270277 , version 1 (24-06-2021)



Bertrand Debono, Carole Gerson, Thierry Houselstein, Lynda Lettat-Ouatah, Renaud Bougeard, et al.. Litigations following spinal neurosurgery in France: “out-of-court system,” therapeutic hazard, and welfare state. Neurosurgical Focus, 2020, 49 (5), pp.E11. ⟨10.3171/2020.8.FOCUS20582⟩. ⟨hal-03270277⟩
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