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June 4, 1997

Malpractice Claims and Physicians' Communication Patterns

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles, Calif

JAMA. 1997;277(21):1681-1682. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540450037029

To the Editor.  —Dr Levinson and collegues1 present interesting results on the relationship of physician-patient Communication with malpractice claims among primary care physicians and surgeons. However, they did not mention a major limitation of their study—the issue of the routine visit. Primary care physician visits in their study lasted a mean of 16.5 minutes (SD, 5.7 minutes). It is very difficult to believe that the average length of a primary care visit in the era of managed care is 16.5 minutes; I suspect visit length today is much shorter in some primary care settings. Either the authors' sample was quite atypical or the physicians in their study made a special effort to talk longer while being taped. Both possibilities would be a major limitation.Richard Balon, MDDetroit, Mich

To the Editor.  —While fascinating, the study by Dr Levinson and colleagues1 is curious in that it attempts to