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Invited Commentary
December 9/23, 2013

Medical Malpractice in the Outpatient Setting: Through a Glass, Darkly

Author Affiliations
  • 1College of Law and College of Medicine, University of Illinois, Champaign
  • 2Schoolof Law,University of Texas, Austin
JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(22):2069-2070. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.9193

Most people’s mental map of medical malpractice is hospital centric. Hospitals are where highly trained specialists provide risky, technology-intensive treatments to patients with the most serious and complicated illnesses. Diagnostic and therapeutic decisions must be coordinated to avoid disaster, but care is provided by an ever-shifting array of physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. The possibility of things going catastrophically wrong is pervasive. When a bad outcome occurs, the hospital is also the primary repository of information about what happened and who might be responsible, as well as a large and well-insured defendant. An inpatient medical record provides “one-stop shopping” for any plaintiffs’ lawyer who is deciding which physicians to sue.

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