chapter  12
9 Pages

Negligence and Medical Malpractice

ByDouglas R. Mackintosh

Medical malpractice is an injury to a patient caused by a health care provider's negligence. Some physical and mental medical injuries are caused by negligence. In 1970, there was less than one chance in 100,000 of an incident occurring that would give rise to a medical malpractice suit when a physician or dentist treated a patient. However, with a total of 382,000 physicians, dentists and hospitals at risk, one out of every twenty-one health care providers was the object of a malpractice claim in 1970. Attorneys generally take malpractice cases on a contingent fee system. If the plaintiff wins the case, the lawyer will receive anywhere from one-third to one-half of the amount settled on or won. Since rate making for insurance companies is based on past experience, the long tail of malpractice claims makes premium determination a vexing problem. In some situations, negligence, under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, can be inferred from the circumstances surrounding the injury.