Caring for Patients in a Malpractice Crisis: Physician Satisfaction, the Physician-Patient Relationship, and Quality of Care
ABSTRACT The rhetoric of malpractice reform is at fever pitch, but political advocacy does not necessarily reflect grassroots opinion. To determine whether the ongoing liability crisis has significantly reduced physicians' professional satisfaction, we surveyed specialist physicians in Pennsylvania. We find widespread discontent among physicians practicing in high-liability environments, which seems to be compounded by other financial and administrative pressures. Opinion alone should not determine public policy, but physicians' perceptions matter for two reasons. First, perceptions influence behavior with respect to practice environment and clinical decision-making. Second, perceptions influence the physician-patient relationship and the interpersonal quality of care.