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April 12, 2006

Relations Between Physicians and Attorneys—Reply

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2006;295(14):1643-1645. doi:10.1001/jama.295.14.1644-b

In Reply: The letters from Drs Kopen, Rude, and Foucar implicitly assume that the tort reforms urged by medical societies and malpractice insurers will resolve physicians' problems with the liability system. We doubt this. Caps on noneconomic damages could lower liability insurance rates (by reducing the value of settlements and judgments), but they would do nothing to diminish the sense of unfairness that many physicians associate with the medical malpractice system. This arises from what many see as that system's propensity to attach moral blame when clinical outcomes disappoint, even when physicians do their best.