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September 29, 1978

Modern Medical Mistakes

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1978;240(14):1538. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290140080035

In this century medicine has made fabulous progress, as every physician, medical student, and layman is well aware. The new marvels of therapy, new diagnostic tests, scientific breakthroughs, conquests of individual diseases—all receive ample publicity in the professional lay press. Not so widely publicized is the great cost that attaches to these advances, costs not measurable in money. Advances do not pursue a straight line. They meander with many turnings that often represent mistakes. Mistakes, in turn, produce suffering and death, however well-intentioned the initial motive.

These mistakes of medicine form the subject of Dr Lambert's book. The author, a pediatric cardiologist, died in 1974 at the early age of 58. His book, a posthumous offering, constitutes a magnificent legacy, a work important for practicing physicians, research scientists, philosophers, jurists, and laymen of all degrees.

The theme might well have been stated, "Who increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow," where sorrow takes