ISSUES: Malpractice Mess

Cherished institutions may become shaky and old heroes tarnished, but Americans have always kept their faith in—and looked up to—doctors. Now, however, many people are worried that doctors may refuse to treat them except in direst emergencies. The reason: the soaring cost of malpractice insurance, which the nation's 300,000 physicians must carry in order to stay in practice. The result is that doctors, who feel their incomes jeopardized, have become rebellious. Patients, who see their access to treatment threatened, are increasingly anxious. State legislators, who must satisfy both groups, are bewildered.

Last week the malpractice situation took on the look of...

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