Impacts of the medical malpractice slowdown in Los Angeles County: January 1976

Am J Public Health. 1979 May;69(5):437-43. doi: 10.2105/ajph.69.5.437.


The Los Angeles County (California) physician strike of January 1976 resulted in a partial withdrawal of physician services. Among recorded impacts were a $17.5 million loss in hospital revenues and an $8.5 million pay loss for hospital employees. Several surveys revealed no evidence of a significant impact on the general public in finding medical care. Analysis of emergency room visits and paramedical ambulance calls showed no significant increases during the strike. County mortality statistics for the strike were not affected. Eighty-eight fatalities among 2,171 patients transferred during the strike were analyzed; a Case Attributable Mortality Probability generated on 21 cases selected for final review by a five-physician multispecialist panel indicated that 29 per cent of the Attributable Mortality could be ascribed to the strike itself and 71 per cent to ongoing "patient dumping" from private sector to County hospitals. Even if sample attributable mortality rates were generalized to overall county deaths, the resultant figures are below the estimated range of 55 to 153 deaths that did not occur because of the number of elective operations not performed secondary to the strike.

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • California
  • Collective Bargaining / economics*
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Hospitals / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Malpractice
  • Mortality
  • Physicians*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / statistics & numerical data