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South Med J. 1995 Dec;88(12):1204-11.

Malpractice litigation fear and risk management beliefs among teaching hospital physicians.

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Division of Preventive Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham 35205, USA.


We address four major issues related to physicians' fear of litigation: What are physicians' attitudes and beliefs toward malpractice? To whom or what do they attribute the "malpractice crisis"? Is fear of litigation associated with demographic and practice variables? What measures do physicians take to reduce risk? Hospital physicians in a southeastern health science center were surveyed (N = 356). Physicians attributed the malpractice crisis to circumstances outside medicine and beyond their control, perceived some patients as suitprone, and reported altering their practice to avoid being sued. Litigation fear was associated with physicians who were female, younger, not board certified, less clinically experienced, more clinically active, defendants in prior lawsuits, and in high-risk specialties. Physicians who were especially fearful of litigation placed less value in risk-management techniques. The findings are important in understanding how the prospect of litigation is perceived by physicians and how that perception may affect medical practice.

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