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November 23, 1994

Physician-Patient Communication: A Key to Malpractice Prevention

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine, Good Samaritan Hospital and Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Ore.

JAMA. 1994;272(20):1619-1620. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520200075039

What factors put physicians at risk for being sued? This is a vital question to practicing physicians since being named in a malpractice suit or, worse yet, going to court is an emotionally distressing event. A suit can lead to personal isolation, humiliation, depression, and even physical illness for physicians.1,2 Understanding malpractice risk factors is also important to malpractice insurance companies, hospitals, and health care systems that seek to provide high-quality care while minimizing their liability and financial risk.

See also pp 1583 and 1588.

This issue of JAMA contains two articles that explore the relationship between physicians' malpractice claims history and two potential risk factors: quality of medical care and interpersonal communication skills. The study by Entman et al3 examined the relationship between malpractice claims history of Florida obstetricians and the quality of the clinical care they provided to patients 5 to 10 years after the claims.