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May 17, 1995

The Relationship Between Physicians' Malpractice Claims History and Later Claims

Author Affiliations

Jersey Shore Medical Center Neptune, NJ

JAMA. 1995;273(19):1488. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520430023016

To the Editor.  —Messrs Bovbjerg and Petronis1 present a cogent actuarial analysis of the relationship between physicians' malpractice claims history and subsequent claims. However, the most telling comment on the malpractice fiasco is their assertion that "malpractice claims remain relatively rare," a contention supported by the fact that during almost 9 years in continuous practice, 41% of the 8247 Florida physicians observed were targets of litigation. By whose standard is this rare?This pronouncement on the rarity of malpractice highlights the insensitivity of those outside the medical profession to the seriousness of lawsuits—the psychological toll they take on physicians, the erosion in a physician-patient relationship that they engender, and the tremendous costs in defensive medicine that they beget. Though lawsuits are not the focus of their article, the authors appear to trivialize them, especially those concluded without payment or with minimal outlay. This trivialization reflects either a callous indifference

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