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February 23, 1963

Committee on Medicolegal Problems

JAMA. 1963;183(8):695-704. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03700080103026

Professional Liability and the Physician 

A Committee Report  For NEARLY FORTY YEARS following the first reported medical professional liability case in the United States in 1794, the incidence of such claims was relatively insignificant. However, it rose tenfold in the decade 1930 to 1940 and another tenfold during the period 1940 to 1950. Since 1950, the problem has become even more serious, with judgments up in the six figures being uncomfortably commonplace. An AMA survey of 1957 found that, at some time during his professional career, one out of every seven physicians was a defendant in a professional liability action. Other surveys, in some of the more densely populated parts of the country, have placed the incidence as high as one out of every four physicians. What has caused so many claims and the filing of so many suits against physicians? This report discusses the major causes and grounds

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