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Medical malpractice: a case study in medical and legal decision making.
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MedLine Citation:
PMID:  2728499     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The conference was organized in part to dispel some of the misinformation that interferes with cooperative efforts of attorneys and physicians to redress the malpractice situation. During discussion of the hypothetical case, participants identified how medical decision-making responsibilities were allocated among health care providers caring for the patient. Panel members suggested ways in which medical decision making might be affected by non-medical factors such as third-party reimbursement (e.g., selection of inpatient or outpatient setting, the opportunity to discuss issues related to informed consent prior to the day of a procedure) and potential malpractice litigation (e.g., documentation in charts, use of diagnostic procedures). The characterization of decision-making roles and responsibilities differed somewhat for purposes of malpractice litigation; that is, which caregivers might be named as defendants. Panel members reconstructed the development of the medical incident into a legal case. Plaintiff's attorney commented that it is often a hospital employee who advises the family to consult an attorney and described some of the constraints on information gathering (e.g., the rule of "discovery" requiring that suit be filed before defendants can be forced to give statements about what happened, insurance contract provisions prohibiting physicians from talking without legal counsel present to persons who indicate that they plan to file suit). He also briefly explained the rationale for the contingency fee arrangement in these cases. Describing the role of the medical expert witness and the need to review the medical record, he outlined the process of deciding whether to pursue a malpractice case. In making this decision, plaintiff's attorney evaluates the facts to identify issues in the case, to determine if there are deviations from the standard of care, and to try to predict jury reaction. If a suit is filed, defense attorneys employed by the hospital, insurance company, or individual defendants will decide, based on facts including coverage limits, possible publicity, and likelihood of successful prosecution, whether the case should be settled and for what amount. Interests represented by the defense attorneys differ and may affect settlement strategies. Physician feelings of concern for the patient/family or desire for vindication will, to varying degrees, be factors in the decision to try or settle a case. Panel members explored several important policy issues. Among these were the effect of malpractice cases on doctor-patient communications and ethical issues concerning expert witnesses.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)
M Piccirillo; G J Graf
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Yale journal of biology and medicine     Volume:  62     ISSN:  0044-0086     ISO Abbreviation:  Yale J Biol Med     Publication Date:    1989 Jan-Feb
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1989-07-11     Completed Date:  1989-07-11     Revised Date:  2009-05-14    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0417414     Medline TA:  Yale J Biol Med     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  23-42     Citation Subset:  IM    
Government and Community Affairs, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510.
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MeSH Terms
Decision Making*
Expert Testimony / legislation & jurisprudence
Insurance, Liability
Malpractice / legislation & jurisprudence*
Postoperative Complications*
Truth Disclosure
United States

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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Journal Information
Journal ID (nlm-ta): Yale J Biol Med
Journal ID (pmc): yjbm
ISSN: 0044-0086
ISSN: 1551-4056
Publisher: Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine
Article Information
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Print publication date: Season: Jan?Feb Year: 1989
Volume: 62 Issue: 1
First Page: 23 Last Page: 42
ID: 2589019
PubMed Id: 2728499

Medical malpractice: a case study in medical and legal decision making.
M. Piccirillo
G. J. Graf
Government and Community Affairs, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510.

Article Categories:
  • Research Article

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