Trouble in Academia: Ten Years of Litigation in Medical Education

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Abstract

Background.

This study looks at a disturbing increase in medical education (“ME”) litigation over the past ten years (1993-2002).

Method.

Using the LEXIS/NEXIS online legal database, this study identifies and analyzes cases in which a medical student, resident, or faculty member (“ME participants”) was involved in a lawsuit with their respective institution or some other aspect of ME.

Results.

The majority of claims lodged against institutions by ME participants concern the ME participant's termination from their respective institution and allege institutional discrimination or the failure to provide adequate due process protections.

Conclusion.

Discrimination and due process claims are direct challenges to the effectiveness of an institution's policies and procedures regarding physician review, promotion, and termination. All relevant events in a student or resident's education, positive and negative, must be fully documented. The failure to establish and faithfully implement comprehensive policies and procedures leaves institutions particularly vulnerable to this most frequent cause of litigation.

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