The authors devised a survey as a first step in assessing physicians'
perceptions of the impact of medical malpractice litigation on their
professional practice and personal lives. Subjects were a sample of
physicians in Cook County, Ill., who had been sued during 1977-1981. Many
respondents reported changes in how they practiced their profession. Two
clusters of self-reported symptoms in reaction to the litigation also
emerged. Further studies, including clinical interviews, are needed to
clarify the impact of medical malpractice suits on the sociological reality
of medical practice.