The problem of professional liability claims and impact on the medical care market has become increasingly important in recent years. Professional liability insurance premiums, and the practice of defensive medicine by physicians in response to potential professional liability claims, have been cited as partly responsible for the increasing costs of medical care. This study is an analysis of factors which influence the probability of a professional liability claim occurring for physicians in each of the four Census Regions.

The data analyzed are from the Eleventh Periodic Survey of Physicians conducted by the American Medical Association in 1977, in which respondents indicated whether they had a professional liability claim filed against them. A logit analysis suggests that variations across Census Regions in population characteristics, availability of medical resources and supply of legal services are determinants of the occurrence of claims.

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