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Delicate Procedure: Making Case Disappear

July 09, 1988

The first-class article, "Delicate Procedures," (June 26) which referred to the case in which Charlie Krueger was awarded $2.36 million in damages relating to an old football injury, omitted but one fact.

How on earth does an interested reader find the case of Krueger vs. San Francisco 49ers?

There has been a pernicious practice, since the beginning of 1987, whereby the California Supreme Court orders a Court of Appeal opinion be "depublished": That is censored, or as the Soviets do, turned into a "non-happening."

In early 1987, the California Court of Appeal published its opinion in Krueger vs. San Francisco 49ers. That opinion was a tour de force in terms of a physician's duty to fully inform his patient of not only the patient's physical condition but also what the proposed treatment might or might not do.

However, when the insurance industry set up the hue and cry, it didn't take very long before the Krueger case disappeared from the law books; with other victims of fraudulent health-care providers unable to cite the otherwise landmark opinion of the Krueger case.

Finally, the comment by the Rams' team doctor that his knee-jerk reaction after reading the Krueger case was that "he would have to stop practicing medicine" is typical of the "Chicken Little, the sky is falling" reaction to the health-care provider industry.

NATHANIEL FRIEDMAN

Los Angeles

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