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July 4, 1986

Mishap or Malpractice?

Author Affiliations

Jacksonville, Fla

JAMA. 1986;256(1):107-108. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380010113044

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Mishap or Malpractice, by Clifford Hawkins, a physician in Birmingham, England, serves to strip away the parochial views that we in the United States tend to have toward our malpractice problems. Although a lawyer in England referred to malpractice as the "American disease," it is a worldwide problem with common roots. The value of this book is a fresh perspective.

The occasion of this book was the centenary of the Medical Defense Union (MDU) of Great Britain. The MDU was formed originally by "two solicitors and five gentlemen" for the purpose of defending physicians against improper attacks in the courts by the public. The first case involved allegations of a sexual assault on a drugged patient. The MDU rapidly grew into a more comprehensive society under the guidance of Mr Lawson Tait, a pioneer in the field of abdominal surgery.

The present MDU affords counsel to physicians and dentists by