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October 17, 1986

Professional Liability

JAMA. 1986;256(15):2118-2119. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380150128043

For -A- or physicians it is not necessary to chronicle the ravages that the problem of professional liability has wreaked upon the medical profession and, more importantly, upon society. The statistics are there for all to see and, taken in the aggregate, by any reasonable interpretation, indicate a conundrum that so far has defied illumination or solution.1 For all physicians, liability insurance premiums have increased by 236% over the last decade.2 But the issue goes far beyond dollars and cents. It speaks to equity, to ethics, to medical progress, to availability of care, to confidence in medical professionals, and to what it is that society really expects of our profession. No one can deny that medical professionals are fallible, that they do make honest errors of judgment, that they do abhor incompetence. No physician sets out to be negligent. No patient is perfectly predictable in terms of response