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February 9, 1994

A Measure of Malpractice: Medical Injury, Malpractice Litigation, and Patient Compensation

Author Affiliations

US Army Department of Legal Medicine Department of Defense Armed Forces Institute of Pathology Washington, DC

JAMA. 1994;271(6):476. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510300088049

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


For many years, proponents of alternative medical malpractice liability systems would illustrate the shortcomings of the present system with anecdotal evidence. However compelling these individual examples were, they could not and do not form a basis for intelligent discourse on malpractice policy considerations.

A Measure of Malpractice recounts the Harvard Medical Practice Study and meets the need for such a systematic, empirical investigation. In dispassionate, painstaking detail, the specifics of a large number of hospital admissions in New York are recounted, along with subsequent medical negligence allegations and the response of both the medical and legal systems.

Inpatient medical records documenting the care afforded to 30 000 hospitalized individuals were examined. Criteria were developed to identify not only adverse events, but also the subset of injuries that were the result of substandard medical care. The varying severity of injury in these adverse incidents was described, and comparative data were collected

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