Money, Medicine, and Malpractice in American Society

By Iain Hay | Go to book overview

1
Calamity in Context

This chapter discusses the term medical malpractice as it applies in the United States before providing a brief history of medical malpractice in human civilizations. Attention is then turned to a typology of alternative, modern national approaches to the issue of physician liability for patient injuries. Responses to malpractice are enmeshed with attitudes of the times and with national social characteristics. The ways in which we deal with medical malpractice reflect our culture while coincidentally shaping our social environment. Following the historical and typological surveys, a short introduction to important actors in the American medical malpractice scene--liability insurers and their reinsurers--is provided. These organizations have become critically important in the shaping of the American health care and liability scenes.


WHAT IS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE IN THE UNITED STATES?

In the United States medical malpractice has been formally defined as: "bad, wrong, or injudicious treatment of a patient, professionally and in respect to the particular disease or injury, resulting in injury, unnecessary suffering, or death to the patient, and proceeding from ignorance, carelessness, want of proper professional skill, disregard of established rules or principles, neglect, or a malicious or criminal intent" ( Black Law Dictionary, cited in U.S. General Accounting Office, 1987f: 11). To this definition it is worth adding that some malpractice claims arise from a failure of the physician to

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Money, Medicine, and Malpractice in American Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Figures and Tables xv
  • Preface xvii
  • Abbreviations xix
  • Introduction xxi
  • 1 - Calamity in Context 1
  • Notes 22
  • 2 - The Basis for Need (1945-1966) 24
  • Notes 50
  • 3 - An Emerging Clash of Costs and Care (1966-1975) 52
  • Conclusion 72
  • Notes 74
  • 4 - From Choice to Necessity 76
  • Notes 84
  • 5 - Crisis, Claims, and New Connections: the First Malpractice Crisis 86
  • Notes 109
  • 6 - Costs, Calamities, and the Second Malpractice Crisis (1975-Present) 111
  • Conclusion 133
  • 7 - Reinsurance and Shifts in Influence 137
  • Notes 151
  • 8 - The Corporatization of Physicians 154
  • Notes 180
  • 9 - Courting Plaintiffs: Private Reform of Tort Law Rights 183
  • Notes 199
  • 10 - Terminus 201
  • Note 206
  • Glossary 207
  • References 211
  • Full Legal Citations 229
  • Annotated List of Personal Communications 231
  • Index 233
  • About the Author 245
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