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'Malpractice--the Doctors' Rx'

November 06, 1985

The contention of Dr. Mitchell S. Karlan, president of the Los Angeles County Medical Assn., that the computer "services' major function was to 'raise an alert,' " is an absurdity.

The obvious purpose, over and above making a profit for its providers, is to discourage even the most meritorious lawsuit by intimidation.

One might ask, to be perfectly fair, whether the providers of Physicians' Alert would allow me, as an attorney specializing in plaintiff's medical malpractice, or any prospective patient to subscribe to their service, in order to learn, with a simple phone call, the identity of all physicians who have been named defendants in lawsuits.

We could expect a response that would point out that the basic service, which provides only the names of the litigants, does not tell us whether the patient's lawsuit was meritorious or not. Karlan would most likely agree that the mere naming of a physician as a defendant in a lawsuit, does not mean that the physician committed acts of medical negligence.

Without further inquiry, beyond the basic service provided by Physicians' Alert, we would not know whether a doctor named as a defendant, is being sued by a former patient, business associate, or creditor.

Karlan blames the need for such a program on some imagined core of "professional plaintiffs" seeking to be injured so as to be able to pursue a lawsuit. What statistics are there that reveal that any persons are habitual suers of doctors?

The deterrent to pursuing the unmeritorious lawsuit, can be found in the cost, both monetary and emotionally, in prosecuting a claim for medical negligence.



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