Dr. Severin's article is a valuable asset for the practitioner--legal
or medical--or academician concerned with the burgeoning of civil
lawsuits over failure to comply with new approaches to the management
and control of cancer. The article identifies two types of such
suits and explores the history of medical malpractice litigation
relating to cancer care. The focus is the physician who either
misses or fails to make a timely diagnosis of hereditable cancer.
Severin's work is timely, since both the number of suits and the
size of awards in cancer litigation are rising. The median verdict
for cancer-related cases rose from $825,000 in 1990 to $1.374
million 4 years later, an insurance industry source has reported.
The paper by Severin is particularly important because it notes
that "third party liability has become a popular charge against
health-care workers." These suits demand compensation for
not only the costs to the patient but also "perceived future
damages to the patient and to other members of the family."
Since most of the recorded legal cases pertain to hereditary breast
cancer, the article explains the steps taken by litigators to
apply scientific developments to suit preparation.