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September 1981

The Malpractice Problem Grows

Author Affiliations

Nashville, Tenn

Arch Surg. 1981;116(9):1119-1120. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1981.01380210007001

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Recently many of us believed that the malpractice crisis had peaked and was under control. However, the unpalatable fact is that not only is the number of cases increasing, but that it is doing so exponentially: that is, since 1978 the yearly increase is itself increasing. In Tennessee, for example, which is not one of the highest-risk areas, the number of claims increased from 280 to 904 in 1979, and then rose another 40%, to 1,262 in 1980. At the same time, overall premiums charged to physicians rose from $875,000 in 1974 to more than $16 million in 1980. The combination of an increasing number of claims, easier access to settlement, larger verdicts, and overall inflation means that the malpractice crisis has not been controlled and in fact threatens to engulf us all in catastrophe. One insurance review has recently stated that "medical malpractice... has demonstrated its ability to stun

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