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Letters | Learning from medical errors

Fear of lawsuits is a toxic result of malpractice system

Re “Airing medical mistakes” (Page A1, April 10): The reluctance of hospital executives to discuss medical errors with the whole medical staff underscores how deeply the fear of medical malpractice suits has penetrated into the medical community at every level. Ironically, by preventing doctors from discussing their errors openly, the fear of suits actually interferes with remedying the situation.

This is only one of the many toxic consequences of a malpractice system that no longer serves the public good. Fear of lawsuits also forces doctors to practice defensive medicine, which not only raises the cost of care immensely but can subject patients to unnecessary and risky tests.

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Perhaps the worst effect of malpractice suits is that many physicians have come to view patients as potential lawsuits.

Health courts can correct some of the current system’s flaws. By using special judges with training in malpractice who understand the complexity of medicine, these cases would receive the consideration they merit, a consideration that is often lacking when such cases are classified as civil suits. This would prevent unwarranted malpractice suits.

Dr. Edward

Volpintesta

Bethel, Conn.

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