Vital Times 2020 - 105

Hugh Vincent, MD

practice. Others decided to " go bare " by practicing
without malpractice coverage, which then exposed
associated colleagues and hospitals to collateral
liability claims and was also considered ethically
dubious. Hugh Vincent, a young anesthesiologist
not yet a junior partner in his group in San Francisco
(but a nascent CMA leader-to-be), remembers being
caught up in the fear spreading rapidly through the
medical profession.
He and a handful of others from the Bay Area began
several weeks of what can best be described as a
crusade to mobilize and energize doctors across the
state to become vocal and impassioned advocates
for legislative intervention, which was widely
acknowledged to be the only viable solution. These
self-selected crusaders took upon themselves a plan
to travel to Los Angeles and San Diego to implore
often skeptical colleagues at medical association
meetings, and to carry their message to the offices
of elected representatives in Sacramento. They even
sought the support of famous newspaper columnists
Art Hoppe and Herb Caen, and imposing figures
like Mayor Joe Alioto of San Francisco, who simply
" wished them luck. "
Then the most dramatic show of solidarity
imaginable unfolded through the phenomenon of

mass action. Anesthesiologists and surgeons across
the state brought their struggle to eye-opening
public attention by refusing to schedule or perform
elective surgeries until California's elected officials
produced a solution to the crisis. As this collective
(and not strictly legal!) action continued for weeks
during the spring of 1975, the CMA, which had been
reluctant at first, organized a massive and at that
time unprecedented public rally at the Capitol on
May 13 that demanded restorative action by the
Governor and Legislature. Anesthesiologists were
at the forefront of this campaign to compel the
government to create tort reform laws, recalls
Peter McDermott (CSA President 1984; ASA
President 1993), who was then a partner in a small
private practice in Ventura County, and was among
the physician demonstrators.

Peter McDermott, MD

He remembers that " there was widespread support
for doctors fighting against the damages to be
imposed upon the public generally and the patients
who would be victims of a system of benefit to
lawyers, " and " in which the cost of practicing
medicine would be passed on to the patient just
as the insurance companies were indifferent to the

Annual Publication 2020

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