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August 16, 2000

The Past and Future of Medical Malpractice Litigation—Reply

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Executive Deputy EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;284(7):827-829. doi:10.1001/jama.284.7.827

In Reply: Dr Kakaiya suggests that medical malpractice litigation essentially comes with the territory in the United States, where "societal values" have encouraged recourse to the courts over other methods of dispute resolution. He further contends that those values have been growing stronger in recent decades. Surely US litigiousness is a factor in the big picture, but litigiousness in general cannot explain the current circumstances of medical malpractice. Americans were extremely litigious well before medical malpractice appeared on the scene, and the rate of medical malpractice suits rose less steeply in the years Kakaiya cites than in several earlier decades of US history.1 Moreover, other professional groups in the United States historically have been sued far less often than physicians and do not now face major malpractice crises of their own.

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