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June 1968

Professional Liability and the Physician

Arch Otolaryngol. 1968;87(6):678-679. doi:10.1001/archotol.1968.00760060680025

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THE Committee on Medicolegal Problems of the American Medical Association has prepared a booklet entitled Professional Liability and the Physician summarizing the major causes and ground for professional liability and the positive steps a physician may take to reduce such claims. This helpful informative booklet may be obtained by writing directly to the American Medical Association.

In the first paragraph the booklet notes that claims against physicians rose tenfold in the decade 1930 to 1940, and another tenfold between 1940 and 1950, an increase of 10,000% in 20 years, "with judgments in the six figures being uncomfortably commonplace." Since 1950 the steep increase in medicolegal claims against physicians has continued, while the awarding of gigantic sums appear to have no limit.

The second paragraph presents the general principle that when a physician diagnoses and treats a patient he is expected by law to exercise the skill and care that are

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