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May 17, 1995

The Relationship Between Physicians' Malpractice Claims History and Later Claims

Author Affiliations

Christiana Hospital Newark, Del

JAMA. 1995;273(19):1488. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520430023017

To the Editor.  —Messrs Bovbjerg and Petronis1 have investigated the predictive value of data on liability claims and "whether this information has any value for predicting future claims or problems with medical quality." Unfortunately, in their article they dealt only with the former issue and not the latter. Since attempting to infer problems with medical quality is the primary use of the NPDB,2 this omission could be misleading and discredits some of their conclusions.The NPDB was begun to prevent "incompetent doctors from jumping from hospital to hospital or state to state."3 Other than for such gross violators, inferences about medical quality from malpractice claims data are much more difficult to make. In my 10 years practicing cardiology, I have practiced in three settings that had extraordinarily different malpractice exposure. One was a prominent university hospital setting where malpractice suits were extremely rare despite the complex cases

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