Law: Policing Doctors

In the clubby and litigious world of medicine, doctors have been reluctant to finger incompetent colleagues. A high-court decision last week is likely to make them even shyer. The case, closely tracked by the medical community, involved Surgeon Timothy Patrick. In 1981 a peer-review panel was considering ending his privileges at the only hospital in Astoria, Ore., on the grounds of substandard patient care. Patrick resigned and sued the doctors in a rival practice, who had initiated and participated in the proceedings against him. His claim: conspiracy to eliminate a competitor. Though the law partly protects physicians who serve on peer-review...

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