The authors reviewed 136 cases of malpractice litigation involving residents or programs of graduate medical education that were reported from 1950 through 1989. Before 1970 malpractice constituted the only area of reported litigation for residents. The number of malpractice cases involving residents increased substantially after 1975, paralleling the growth of malpractice cases nationally. The regional pattern of reported cases involving residents also corresponded with previous findings. Questions of vicarious liability, the applicable standard of care, and residents' supervision were at issue in the great majority of cases. Questions related to judicial procedure, immunity from liability, breach or causation, and informed consent were also litigated. Residents were on the side of the prevailing party in 44% of the cases. Malpractice continues to be the key legal issue facing programs of residency training.
(C) 1991 Association of American Medical Colleges