Medicine: Legal Rash

It was once standard practice for a doctor to say soothingly to the patient with a broken arm: "Don't worry—we'll soon have it as good as new." Such optimistic pleasantries are now out of fashion. Doctors are becoming more & more wary of laying themselves open to malpractice suits. And nowhere are, they warier than in Los Angeles, where such suits are commoner than anywhere else-in the U.S.

This month, the 3,600 doctors who take out malpractice insurance under a plan sponsored by the Los Angeles County Medical Association found their premiums raised again. One of the biggest jumps was...