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October 27, 1900

PHYSICIANS NOT LIABLE WHEN THEY ACT IN GOOD FAITH.

JAMA. 1900;XXXV(17):1092. doi:10.1001/jama.1900.02460430028006

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Abstract

The Supreme Court of Massachusetts, in full bench, has given out a decision that is of interest to medical men. It holds that physicians under the Massachusetts statutes are not liable for negligence in erroneously certifying a person insane or inebriate, provided they do so in good faith and without malice. Even if their examination was a careless one their action was not the proximate cause of the commitment, as a judge must, under the statutes, determine that; and, secondly, they should, in accordance with public policy, be like other witnesses, considered privileged and protected against liability as long as they act in good faith and without malice. The opinion was a majority one, but, while not unanimous, it is sufficient to protect Massachusetts physicians from vindictive damage-suits and may be a valuable legal precedent elsewhere.

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