Genuine concern for patients and an intrinsic drive to provide high-quality care are primary motivators for individuals and institutions to take steps to avoid iatrogenic injuries. Despite these drivers, a recent estimate suggests that preventable medical error is the third most common cause of death in the United States.1
The medical malpractice liability system is not only a mechanism for compensating injured patients but also a motivational backstop. When functioning properly, the system applies external pressure on physicians and hospitals to expend resources to reduce the number of negligently caused injuries. It complements intrinsic incentives and attempts to weed out those who repeatedly inflict preventable injuries.