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Mayo Clin Proc. 2009 November; 84(11): 1045.
PMCID: PMC2770927

Avoiding Medical Malpractice: A Physician's Guide to the Law

Reviewed by Agnes M. Schipper, JD

by  William T. Choctaw,  106 pp, with illus,  $49.95,  New York, NY,  Springer (telephone: 800-777-4643),  2008, ISBN  978-0-387-73063-9.

Grading Key [large star][large star][large star][large star][large star] = outstanding; [large star][large star][large star][large star] = excellent; [large star][large star][large star] = good; [large star][large star] = fair; [large star] = poor

Type and Scope of Book:

A single-authored text and commentary on medical malpractice law.


A California surgeon with a law degree outlines the basics of medical malpractice law, some tips to avoid malpractice suits, and what to do and expect when served with a lawsuit. Other related topics are covered, such as addressing disruptive physician behavior, cyber medicine, arbitration, documentation, disclosure to patients about mistakes, informed consent, and communicating with a diverse patient population (or cultural competence). The author also shares his personal experience as a patient.


The book is concise and a quick read. The best chapters (8-12) are on what to expect when being sued, not only in terms of the litigation process and legal terminology but also the stress and emotional impact.


This is not a scholarly treatise, but is a personal perspective and commentary of a surgeon practicing in Southern California. The author makes some broad generalizations without good supporting data. Some statements, eg, a physician's personal records of a patient cannot be discovered, are not accurate for physicians practicing outside California.

Recommended Readership:

Physicians involved in or concerned about malpractice suits.

Overall Grading:

[large star][large star]

Articles from Mayo Clinic Proceedings are provided here courtesy of The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research