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Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Executive Deputy EditorIndividualAuthor
To the Editor: Dr Mohr1
argues that 3 medical and 3 legal factors sustain medical malpractice litigation.
I believe that an additional factor is the modern attitude that values litigation
above other approaches to resolving disputes. Individual and institutional
members of society are increasingly litigious as is evidenced by caseload
data from the National Center for State Courts.2
Recent tobacco court cases demonstrate that the government also is suing its
own citizens to resolve disputes instead of using the legislative process.
From 1984 to 1994, the number of cases filed for juvenile, domestic,
criminal, and civil offenses increased by 59%, 65%, 35%, and 24% respectively.2 The total number of cases in 1994 for these 4 categories
was more than 34 million and represented 13.75 cases per year per 100 citizens,
assuming a total US population of 250 million.
At the same time (1984-1994), tort filings increased 20%, from 251,983
to 303,006.2 Besides medical malpractice,
these tort cases included product liability, professional malpractice, toxic
substances, premises liability, intentional injury, automobile crashes, and
slander or libel.2 Again, the diversity
of these lawsuits confirms the value that individual and institutional members
of the society place on litigation.
I believe that these societal values are probably more important than
the values described by Mohr in sustaining litigation in medical malpractice
and in many other areas as well.
Kakaiya R. The Past and Future of Medical Malpractice Litigation. JAMA. 2000;284(7):827–829. doi:10.1001/jama.284.7.827
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