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August 10, 1957


Author Affiliations

Oakland, Calif.

Member, Committee on Medicolegal Problems, American Medical Association.

JAMA. 1957;164(15):1688-1689. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.62980150021017

One of the most difficult problems presently confronting physicians is that of medical malpractice, probably more correctly termed professional liability. Commencing in the 1930's, gaining momentum during the 1940's, and attaining new heights in the 1950's, the problem has reached alarming proportions. It exists nationwide, the only difference being that the degree of hazard varies throughout the nation. In some areas of the country, suits have been filed for a million dollars! And judgments rendered by the courts have reached $250,000! Awards in the neighborhood of $100,000 are not particularly unusual.

As a result, some insurance companies are avoiding or leaving the field of such coverage, group professional liability insurance programs have been canceled, and physicians are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain adequate and proper coverage. This condition must affect the practice of medicine; the physician will lose his courage in the use of necessarily difficult and dangerous procedures

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