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Collin J. Larkin, Anastasios G. Roumeliotis, Constantine L. Karras, Nikhil K. Murthy, Maria Fay Karras, Huy Minh Tran, Ketan Yerneni, and Matthew B. Potts

Annually, 20% of all practicing neurosurgeons in the United States are faced with medical malpractice litigation. The average indemnity paid in a closed neurosurgical civil claim is $439,146, the highest of all medical specialties. The majority of claims result from dissatisfaction following spinal surgery, although claims after cranial surgery tend to be costlier. On a societal scale, the increasing prevalence of medical malpractice claims is a catalyst for the practice of defensive medicine, resulting in record-level healthcare costs. Outside of the obvious financial strains, malpractice claims have also been linked to professional disenchantment and career changes for afflicted physicians. Unfortunately, neurosurgical residents receive minimal practical education regarding these matters and are often unprepared and vulnerable to these setbacks in the earlier stages of their careers. In this article, the authors aim to provide neurosurgical residents and junior attendings with an introductory guide to the fundamentals of medical malpractice lawsuits and the implications for neurosurgeons as an adjunct to more formal residency education.