July 1978

Malpractice: A Trial Lawyer's Advice for Physicians

Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics (Law) Yale University School of Medicine-Yale-New Haven Hospital New Haven, CT 06510


by Walter G. Alton, Jr, $9.95, 230 pp, Boston, Little Brown & Co, 1977.

Arch Surg. 1978;113(7):907. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1978.01370190129034

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Alton's book is quite entertainingly written and includes many very interesting cases from his own practice. His discussions of such practical matters as medical records are excellent. His chapters on the preliminary steps in and the trial of a malpractice case are extremely clear and well worth the price of the book for any physician who wants to know quite simply, "What happens if I get sued?" Over-simplification of the legal principles and concepts behind the "what happens" is, however, the book's downfall.

In the first place, Alton is a New York lawyer discussing New York law. When the jurisprudence in that state conflicts with the rules in some or all of the other states, he does not mention it. In fact, in the preface, he says there may be "minor variations" in the law of other states but they are "inconsequential" to the basic understanding he seeks to impart.

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