6 Willamette L.J. 225 (1970)
Medical Malpractice: A Socio-Economic Problem from a Doctors View

handle is hein.journals/willr6 and id is 233 raw text is: MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: A SOCIO-ECONOMIC
PROBLEM FROM A DOCTORS VIEW
JAMES W. BROOKE, M.D., M.A.
Mildly disenchanted medical opinion to the contrary not-
withstanding, modern America does not propose to invoice
the code of Hammurabi. It only seems that way. Because
the very word malpractice has an evil rhythm together with
the Whitehead thought cluster of incompetence, chicanery,
dishonesty, and malice, it is difficult to consider the subject
dispassionately. However, the mounting influence of mal-
practice litigation on medical practice, on medical research,
on the cost, and on the adequacy of medical service makes
such a consideration of pressing importance.
WHAT IS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?
Just what is medical malpractice? This varies from one
jurisdiction to another. In general it means the wreaking of
bodily harm by virtue of neglect, abandonment, or the omis-
sion or commission of certain actions which fall below the
standards of the average medical practitioner. There are all
sorts of legal variations on the theme of harm, ranging from
loss of consortium, to emotional disorder-as well as loss of
life or limb. But harm there must be. Sometimes it is diffi-
cult to prove harm, especially in the realm of the esoteric be-
havioral disorders. Neglect and abandonment may be diffi-
cult to prove. What the injured party may consider to be
abandonment may be difficult to prove. What the injured
party may consider to be abandonment and neglect are not
necessarily that. What decisions should have been made at
the time of treatment, what course of action should have
been followed, what things would have been better left un-
done are easy to determine in after-coming-times. Fortu-
nately, the physician is not expected to have tomorrows' wis-
dom today. Although he is judged by the validity of his de-
cisions at the time, it is often almost impossible to disengage
ones thinking from the present, cast it into the past and be
wholly objective about it. Only rarely, and in some jurisdic-
tions not at all, does the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur apply.
Therefore it is necessary for a medical witness to confirm that

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