Medical malpractice charges from 1989 to 2002 were evaluated. A rising number of cases during this period is evident. The charges of practice falling below the standard of care (n = 285) were surveyed to determine who informed the prosecution, which clinical subjects are involved, what kind of charges can be found and whether such allegations can be appropriately assessed by means of a forensic autopsy. Forensic pathologists were found to be useful for ascertainment and interpretation of autopsy findings. If special questions arise, an additional expert opinion should be suggested by the forensic pathologist. There was no relevant shift in the range of subjects involved compared to former studies. The investigated charges might represent only a small fraction of cases of medical practice falling below the standard of care.
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