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Books, Journals, New Media
March 16, 2005


Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;293(11):1393-1397. doi:10.1001/jama.293.11.1393-a

When physician-attorney Hubert Winston Smith published a six-part series called “Legal Responsibility for Medical Malpractice” in JAMA 63 years ago, he devoted the first article to the development of the common law, one article each to the four elements (duty to the patient, negligence, proximate cause, and damages) that must be proven in order to demonstrate malpractice, and one to the system for dealing with malpractice. He discussed numerous legal precedents at length, but not insurance. The standard of care being what an ordinary, competent physician would do under the circumstances, Smith did not dwell on how to avoid liability.

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