Medicine: Crisis in California

Mount Zion is one of San Francisco's largest hospitals and normally schedules from 40 to 60 operations a day. Last week, on its busiest day, only eleven were scheduled. Operating rooms at 45 other institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area were also unusually quiet —and with good reason. Having declined to pay what they considered prohibitively high premiums for malpractice insurance, 307 northern California anesthesiologists had refused either to renew their insurance policies or practice without coverage and had walked off their jobs.

The California walkout was the most drastic response yet...