Massachusetts Law Review

Massachusetts Law Review

Loss of Chance in Medical Malpractice: The Need for Caution

Loss of chance is a doctrine permitting recovery of damages for the destruction or reduction of prospects for achieving a more favorable outcome. In medical malpractice actions, the loss of chance doctrine permits a claimant with a 50 percent or less chance of survival or better outcome to nevertheless recover damages for any negligence of the physician that reduced this chance of survival or better outcome. Medical malpractice actions based on "loss of chance" raise significant public policy concerns as to the proper scope of a physician's liability. Massachusetts has yet to definitively adopt or address the contours of the doctrine. This article reviews the loss of chance doctrine and suggests that it should not be adopted in Massachusetts.
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