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Medical Malpractice: Law, Tactics, and Ethics.

Frank McClellan, a litigator and a professor at the Temple University School of Law, says that his aim in writing this book was to challenge and inform "a mixed audience, including law students, practicing attorneys, physicians, and allied health care professionals." In general, I think he has accomplished his ambitious goal.

The book is a broad examination of the complex subjects of law, tactics, and ethics in medical negligence cases. In part, the author's approach involves setting out a description of facts based on actual cases. These fact patterns are followed by discussions of the various problems presented.

One section outlines the elements of damages in medical negligence cases and describes their application. A brief discussion of punitive damages is included in this section as well.

Although the author gives some guidance m evaluating damages m these cases, this is one of the weakest areas in the book, perhaps because it is difficult to give guidelines for evaluation that have universal application.

Another section deals with choosing and using effective expert witnesses. It reviews subjects like the locality rule, the requirement that a witness has practiced in the same medical area as a defendant, and the sufficiency of expert opinions. While it is undeniably informative, this section is an elementary treatment of the subject.

An overview of drug classifications and the role of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will prove helpful to those unfamiliar with this enigmatic area of medical negligence tort law. The discussion of special problems related to therapeutic drug-induced injuries is particularly informative.

The general discussion of the history of "tort reform" is instructive. However, many readers will disagree with the author's recommendation for "national tort reform" and his suggested solutions to what he perceives to be the problem with medical negligence in the United States.

The book also includes some very practical information. For example, McClellan provides checklists for interviewing plaintiffs and health care providers, a list of potential damages issues, and a discussion about obtaining and reviewing medical records.

A chapter on preparation for trial consists of a rudimentary synopsis of some of the factors involved. It is neither detailed enough nor long enough to be of practical value, but it does give some preliminary information about this aspect of litigation.

Overall, McClellan's book provides an informative summary of relevant topics in this field. The author has done a good job of capturing and analyzing the ethical considerations and economic forces involved in the complex medical negligence arena.

The book's primary weakness is the author's attempt to analyze too many complex subjects from too broad a perspective. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to adequately cover the philosophy behind medical negligence law, provide practical advice on tactics for both plaintiff and defense attorneys, and discuss the ethics of medical practice all in a book of this size.

Understandably, the author's ambitious goal results in a general overview of medical negligence. He has produced a book for the relatively inexperienced lawyer rather than a book for a seasoned medical negligence trial lawyer.
COPYRIGHT 1994 American Association for Justice
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Copyright 1994, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Luvera, Paul N.
Publication:Trial
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 1994
Words:509
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