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July 17, 1991

Medical Malpractice Suits and Autopsies-Reply

Author Affiliations

Chapel Hill, NC

Chapel Hill, NC

JAMA. 1991;266(3):361. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470030060014

In Reply.  —The purpose of my essay was to expose the personal shortcomings in the way our society chooses to handle medical malpractice lawsuits. Such shortcomings manifest themselves for physicians in at least two ways. First, most clinicians, regardless of their specialty or the health care setting, at least think about potential malpractice lawsuits subconsciously and consciously, and probably on at least a weekly if not daily basis, regardless of whether they have personally ever been sued. An aura of silence usually surrounds such thoughts despite the enormous implications for patient care. Second, as clinicians, we somehow often feel immune to the same diseases attacking the immune systems of our patients: stress, anger, hostility, rejection, burnout, disappointment, and more. Medical malpractice lawsuits, regardless of their origin, pathophysiology, or prognosis, negatively affect our personal and our family's health. Our own self-healing process can begin by openly acknowledging and discussing such effects,