For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.



The reform of medical malpractice litigation has been a constant refrain in legislative and academic circles for forty-five years, starting with the 1970 "crisis" in medical liability insurance. In fact, as Rob Field has noted, calls for reform go back to the 1800s. Once lawyers began to sue on behalf of injured patients, doctors began to complain. Why? Because suits (1) target high status professionals and their own deeply felt needs to be perfect; (2) inflict pain on them not only by imposed damage costs, but also by the mere fact of naming them as defendants; and (3) present a dramatic story of injury and draw attention to bad medicine, reminding everyone how dangerous medicine can be. Nothing has changed, except that medicine is far more dangerous today in the frequency of harms caused—the consequence of modern medicine's power to treat far more health care problems with powerful and invasive tools.