Medicine: The Malpractice Mess

A surgeon places an unnecessarily tight cast on a young boy's broken leg and ignores his complaints of discomfort. The leg develops gangrene and has to be amputated. The boy's parents sue the doctor. Another surgeon accidentally punctures a 40-year-old man's esophagus. An infection develops, and the patient hovers on the brink of death. The patient sues the surgeon.

Once a relative rarity, malpractice suits are now common throughout the U.S. In California alone, such cases increased 4% from 1966 to 1969. According to the American Medical Association, one-fourth of all U.S. physicians...

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