Medical Education and Malpractice: What's the Connection?
16 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2005
This essay anticipates that courts may encounter an increasing number of educational malpractice claims against medical schools when patients suffer injuries at the hands of recent graduates. Such lawsuits will pose difficult questions, and they fall at the intersection of two divergent litigation trends - namely, a greater willingness to impose duties on health care institutions (and also to extend tort duties to third party beneficiaries in various contexts), but a longstanding unease with claims of educational malpractice. It is difficult to predict which of these tendencies will predominate when courts resolve future (m)ed-mal claims. Such lawsuits may well falter after a thorough analysis of the evidence and competing policy arguments, but judges should carefully articulate their reasons for declining to recognize these sorts of cases rather than simply parroting the weak rationales used to reject tort claims asserted by public high school students who graduate with inadequate basic skills. The characteristics of medical education - and the foreseeable consequences of doing a poor job of training future health care professionals - demand a closer evaluation of the possible benefits and burdens of holding medical schools accountable for failing in their mission.
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