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September 16, 1992

The Death of a Baby: Neither Forgiven Nor Forgotten-Reply

Author Affiliations

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Nashville, Tenn

JAMA. 1992;268(11):1414. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490110051027

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In Reply.  —This story unfortunately is typical of many cases we examined in seeking to identify factors prompting families to file malpractice claims. In almost all cases, and independent of determinations of liability, families indicated that there were problems with patient-physician communication and that these problems were often "the last straw" in their decisions to file claims. Many told us they pursued litigation even though they realized that the process might rekindle old feelings of grief and subject them to the trauma of the courtroom.This case illustrates several of our findings. Mr Feilich said: "Afterward, we tried to call the group," and "No one returned our calls." Few patients in our study believed that their physicians returned such calls in a timely manner. While we can only speculate about the reasons for this seeming reluctance, at least some hesitancy may relate to physicians' lack of training in how to