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September 18, 2002

Malpractice Risk and Patient Complaints

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2002;288(11):1353-1354. doi:10.1001/jama.288.11.1350

To the Editor: In his Editorial about the relationship between patient complaints and malpractice risk, Dr Sage1 supports the familiar contention the patient is always right. However, this argument may not be helpful in addressing concerns about medical malpractice litigation.

It seems to me that patient satisfaction is rarely correlated with the actual quality of care that physicians render. Sage alludes to this fact in a vignette about an incompetent yet beloved physician in his past. To be sure, my patients would prefer that I encourage their smoking and advocate increased consumption of alcohol. Their satisfaction with my care would be high. Would Sage have me change my practice in this way to comply with his axiom of customer service?

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