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May 1964

Ionizing Radiation and Professional Liability In Dermatology

Author Affiliations


Clinical Professor and Chairman, Division of Dermatology.

Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, University of California School of Medicine.

Arch Dermatol. 1964;89(5):747-748. doi:10.1001/archderm.1964.01590290113017

Malpractice is the failure to use due care, average skill, and precaution. Personal injury cases (torts) make up 80% of Superior Court dockets. Professional liability cases against physicians comprise a very small proportion of these. Compare, for example, the effect of 70 million automobiles colliding with each other with the alleged negligent acts of only 280,000 physicians. However, in addition to the size of possible judgments ($100,000 is no longer uncommon), the physician may go through three or four years of soul-searching anguish as a malpractice defendant.

Insurance comes high. For a California dermatologist, $500 to $700 per year is not unusual, depending on how provident he is or how insecure he feels. About half of this amount goes for radiation coverage.

In actual fact, suits against the dermatologist for presumably careless use of radiation are rare, and judgments have not been astronomic. Despite hydrogen bombs, with subsequent worry

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