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Editorials |

Preventing Medical Errors, Avoiding Litigation : Not Easy To Do in 2004

Dean Gianakos, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

Affiliations: Lynchburg, VA
 ,  Dr. Gianakos is Associate Director, Lynchburg Family Medicine Residency, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine, University of Virginia.

Correspondence to: Dean Gianakos, MD, FCCP, Associate Director, Lynchburg Family Medicine Residency, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine, UVA, 2097 Langhorne Rd, Lynchburg, VA 24501; e-mail: deangianakos@yahoo.com



Chest. 2004;126(5):1408-1409. doi:10.1378/chest.126.5.1408
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For physicians who desire a better understanding of the current malpractice crisis in America, I suggest they read James Mohr’s article entitled “American Medical Malpractice Litigation in Historical Perspective,”1 in which Mohr reviews the medical and legal factors that have led to the dysfunctional medical malpractice system that currently prevails in the United States. I say dysfunctional because it is doubtful, though vigorously debated, particularly by trial lawyers, that malpractice litigation today achieves its presumed social goals: to deter unsafe medical practices, to fairly compensate patients injured by negligent practices, and to institute corrective justice.2 Mohr cites the following medical factors that have contributed to periodic malpractice crises3 in the last 150 years: the innovative pressures on American medicine, the spread of uniform standards, and the creation of medical malpractice liability insurance. Contributing legal factors include contingent fees, citizen juries, and the nature of tort pleading in the United States. I do not intend to review Mohr’s article here, but I would like to elaborate on the first factor, innovation in medicine, as an entry point to my discussion of Thomas McLean’s article in this issue of CHEST (see page 1672).

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