Book Review: Medical Malpractice Litigation


Frank Slesnick. 2023. Book Review: Medical Malpractice Litigation. Journal of Legal Economics 29(1–2): pp. 97–103.

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Medical Malpractice Litigation – How It Works, Why Tort Reform Hasn’t Helped
Bernard S. Black, David A. Hyman, Myungho S. Paik, William M. Sage, and Charles Silver. CATO Institute, 2021, 307 pages. ISBN 978-1-948647-79-3, $24.95 print, free e-book.

This book focuses on the medical malpractice liability system, examining specific questions: What are its purposes and goals? Why has the system not achieved its intended goals? What reforms have been proposed and have the reforms been successful? After documenting that the reforms have failed to accomplish their task, the authors ask what reforms might provide more meaningful improvements to the system.

For the forensic economist, medical malpractice cases appear similar to other cases such as those involving injury or death. In these cases, it is alleged that the defendant breached a duty to meet the standard of care, resulting in measurable damages. In the U.S. and other countries, redress for these mistakes is conducted through legal proceedings. The purpose of any award granted is to first force the negligent party to compensate the victim –to make them whole. Second, additional punitive damages may also be assessed, which are motivated by two objectives: (1) to deter the specific defendant in the case from repeating or continuing their offensive behavior, and (2) to deter, generally, other potential parties from committing similar offenses.


Frank L. Slesnick

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