Determination of legal responsibility in shared airway management between anesthesiology and otolaryngology

Henry C. Ideker, Jatin S. Julakanti, Nishat A. Momin, Mohamad R. Chaaban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Malpractice litigation remains an important point of contention in the United States. Airway management often sees multidisciplinary teams of anesthesiologists and otolaryngologists. This report analyzes lawsuits affecting both teams in airway management. Methods: The Westlaw legal database (West Publishing Co., St. Paul, MN) was used to search for malpractice cases involving failed airway management, where both anesthesiology and otolaryngology were involved. Results: Among the 28 cases analyzed, otolaryngology and anesthesiology were most commonly sued together (46.4%). When sued together, defendants were less likely to win and average award amounts ($4, 558 716) were higher. These cases most commonly occurred in the operating room (78.6%), involved a difficult/improper intubation (39.3%), alleged a failure to follow standard of care (57%), and resulted in death (60.7%). Conclusion: These cases primarily cited failure to follow standard of care and communication failures. Efforts should be directed toward multidisciplinary airway management protocols and effective communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4181-4188
Number of pages8
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • airway
  • anesthesiology
  • malpractice
  • multidisciplinary team
  • otolaryngology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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