To assess the impact of malpractice litigation on physicians' personal
and professional lives, the authors surveyed a random sample of the Chicago
Medical Society membership. Although both sued and nonsued physicians
reported changes in professional behavior and emotional reactions to both
the threat and actuality of litigation, sued physicians reported
significantly more symptoms than nonsued physicians. Significantly more of
them reported that they were likely to stop seeing certain types of
patients, think of retiring early, and discourage their children from
entering medicine. Malpractice litigation may affect not only physicians'
personal and professional lives but also the delivery of health care.