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Injury, Liability, and the Decision to File a Medical Malpractice Claim

Frank A. Sloan and Chee Ruey Hsieh
Law & Society Review
Vol. 29, No. 3 (1995), pp. 413-436
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3053973
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3053973
Page Count: 23
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Injury, Liability, and the Decision to File a Medical Malpractice Claim
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Abstract

The authors used two data sets based on interviews with families who suffered an adverse birth outcome in Florida-either a stillbirth, an infant death, or a permanent birth-related injury-to assess the decision to file a medical malpractice claim. These data were supplemented by medical evaluations of liability. The authors found that cases in which the physician evaluators thought the physician had been negligent were much more likely to have become claims, as were more serious injuries. Overall, the view of critics of the current medical malpractice system that innocent physicians are just as likely, or more likely, to be sued than the guilty ones and that patients sue when they do not obtain a "perfect result" is not confirmed. Claims were less likely to result when the family had health insurance, either private or public, and when families who had been told by the physician that there might be a problem with the child. The mother's educational attainment and family income had no effect on the probability of claiming. Mothers who admitted to consuming alcohol during pregnancy were more likely to claim.

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