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JAMA. 1991 Nov 27;266(20):2856-60.

Can practice guidelines reduce the number and costs of malpractice claims?

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Program on Health Care Financing and Insurance, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA.


Practice guidelines have the potential to reduce the number of malpractice cases and the costs of settling them. However, for practice guidelines to exert any influence, they must be assumed to be (1) developed for conditions or procedures that frequently lead to events for which negligence claims are filed; (2) widely accepted in the medical profession; (3) fully integrated into clinical practice; and (4) straightforward and readily interpreted in a litigation setting. Because the validity of each of these assumptions can be questioned, the idea that inserting practice guidelines into the existing litigation process will generate large savings in the near future is overly optimistic.

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