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Editor's Correspondence
December 9/23, 2002

Reflections on Malpractice

Arch Intern Med. 2002;162(22):2630. doi:

As I read the recent commentary "Reducing Legal Risk by Practicing Patient-Centered Medicine,"1 I was reminded that the literature I have read about malpractice has neglected 2 major points. First, it appears to me that lawyers and physicians view malpractice in very different lights. Lawyers, I believe, are detached about malpractice. To them it is just one of the many aspects of earning a living, some of which are pleasant and some of which are not. They believe that we should treat it as a game or competition just as they do and that we should study it to reduce its impact and even fight it politically but should not take it so personally because it is "just business." Physicians, on the other hand, react very emotionally to malpractice, in general. We become physicians to help people and then discover that the very people we are trying to help may turn against us in a drastic way, threatening our confidence and even our ability to remain practicing physicians. I believe that malpractice is a dagger in the heart of the physician-patient relationship, undermining the trust that is so essential for each party to feel.

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