Rigorous scrutiny of medical malpractice by a physician/lawyer who charges that the medical profession needs to clean up its act. Wachsman (a neurosurgeon and also a partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm specializing in medical malpractice) states that each year twice as many people die at the hands of their physicians as in highway accidents. In his experience, most malpractice lawsuits involve the failure of a physician either to be present when needed, to take an adequate medical history, or to perform an adequate examination. Wachsman illustrates each of these failings with horrific stories and includes the legal outcome in each case, as well as the medical one. He dismisses as myth the argument that doctors are being forced to practice defensive medicine, claiming that physicians who perform unnecessary tests and procedures are motivated primarily by profit. Exposing malpractice is essential if the public is to be protected, Wachsman says, and he provides convincing evidence of cover-up and lack of self-discipline by members of the medical profession. The author urges numerous reforms--including stricter regulation, better reporting of physician misbehavior and hospital deficiencies, and a change in attitude by both doctors and patients--and he offers pointers on how to become a more discriminating health-care consumer. His advice includes tips on selecting and communicating with a doctor, getting second or third opinions, choosing a hospital, and checking the credentials of every doctor involved in treatment. Persuasive arguments, backed by facts and presented with authority, on yet another aspect of the national debate over health care.