THE ISSUE OF medical malpractice has been a hot-button issue for politicians at both the federal and state levels since the mid-1970s. Liberals insist that plaintiffs who suffer at the hands of incompetent or neglectful medical personnel should be allowed to recover full damages, that unrestricted damages serve to promote accountability among the medical profession, and that juries should be free to respond to cases on an individual basis.

Conservatives counter with the claim that too many medical lawsuits are frivolous, that juries are more likely to favor plaintiffs than defendants, and that large jury awards are detrimental to business interests. Neither side contests the reality of the problems that exorbitant medical malpractice insurance rates have caused for the medical community, and both sides take it ...

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