Top five legal pitfalls in retinopathy of prematurity

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Abstract

Purpose of review

This review highlights the common areas of medicolegal risk during retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) screening.

Recent findings

Most malpractice risk in ROP comes from systemic errors that ultimately result in failure to screen the patient in a timely fashion, resulting in failures to intervene and/or refer in a timely fashion. Currently, the emphasis is engaging the family members, the hospital staff, and clinic staff to pro-actively manage ROP patients and ensure that they are screened in a timely fashion. Coordinating care between multiple caregivers can minimize risk. Risk increases when practitioners do not stay up to date on current screening and treatment guidelines or on the most recent study recommendations. Finally, it is important to maintain a high level of suspicion when dealing with infants is known to be predisposed to poor outcomes.

Summary

Premature infants with short gestation and very low birthweights need to have structured screening coordinated between the hospital, the clinic, the physicians, and the family in order to minimize medicolegal risk and maximize beneficial outcomes.

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