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Medical Malpractice.

Medical Malpractice, Edited by Duncan Yaggy and Patricia Hodgson, Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, 1987

Reviewed by: Cynthia L. Gallup (Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley) and Thomas G. McGuire (Department of Economics, Boston University)

Medical Malpractice is an edited transcript of the Eleventh Private Sector Conference. The conference, held at Duke University in 1986, focused on the current state of the malpractice liability system and possible reforms. Experts in malpractice and health policy complemented the experience of practicing lawyers and physicians, and the insight of insurance and medical groups' representatives. The book contains 19 short, non-technical statements, averaging 3-4 pages by presenters, and the comments of assigned discussants and other participants at the conference.

Following the format of the conference, the book starts with a discussion of both the benefits and costs of the malpractice liability system and then presents recent trends and developments. An exploration of possible reforms comprises the remainder of the book. The reforms analyzed range from relatively minor changes within the existing liability system, such as capping liability awards, to more radical reforms, such as no-fault insurance. Alternative methods of resolving malpractice disputes also received discussion. With Jeffrey O'Connell, the designer of the Moore-Gephardt bill at the conference, the bill received considerable attention. The Moore-Gephardt bill which was not passed, proposed that physicians be able to preclude Medicare patients from suing for malpractice by tendering an offer to pay a patient's economic damages.

The diversity of the discussants constitute one strength of the book. Academics as well as those working within the insurance, legal, and medical fields provide their knowledge and impressions of the malpractice liability system. Patricia Danzon, Robert Brook, and Jeffrey O'Connell especially help guide the reader by providing pithy summaries of the issues at hand. Danzon's four-page statement of the core policy issue in malpractice - finding the right balance of policies to adequately compensate victims and to effectively deter malpractice-is an excellent accessible introduction to these difficult issues.

A researcher interested in medical malpractice will probably not find the book useful. Most of the ideas and facts presented in the book have been presented in more detail (by the conference participants themselves) elsewhere. Numerous unsubstantiated and sometimes contradictory assertions weaken the book. No references appear, frustrating the reader who wants to find the source of a quoted statistic or research an issue further. The lack of references is especially frustrating given the controversial and contradicted assertions repeatedly made throughout the book. One speaker cites the source of a statistic as the American Medical Association. Two pages later, a representative of the AMA refutes quoted statistic and states that its source is definitely not the AMA.

We do recommend the book to those with a general interest in medical malpractice. Through spicy dialogue, the book presents a broad overview of the issues in the malpractice liability system and the perspectives of the various parties within the system: lawyers, physicians, and malpractice insurers.
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Author:Gallup, Cynthia L.; McGuire, Thomas G.
Publication:Journal of Risk and Insurance
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1990
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