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June 7, 1985

Another Cause for Litigation

JAMA. 1985;253(21):3095. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350450067023

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To the Editor.—  Most physicians are aware of the continuing crisis in malpractice litigation. However, as the following examples will illustrate, we are encountering a new and pernicious type of litigation between patient and physician.In the first instance, a child required a tracheotomy for upper airway obstruction. It took several days longer than originally anticipated to extubate this child, and the parents initiated a legal action to have the surgeon pay for those extra days in the hospital.In the second case, a child with otitis media needed the insertion of tympanostomy tubes. The parents had no medical insurance and were advised to inquire whether the hospital's "free bed fund" would cover the operating room costs. The surgeon inserted the tympanostomy tubes at no charge to the parents, but the patient apparently did not qualify for the "free bed fund" and received a bill from the hospital. The parents