This study analyzes the incidence of medical malpractice claims since 1976. using data drawn from the 1982 core survey of the American Medical Association's Socioeconomic Monitoring System. The data show that, on average, physicians incurred twice as many claims per year in the years 1976 to 1981 as they did during their careers prior to that period. Using Tobit analysis, we find the annual frequency of claims to be greater among surgeons, obstetricians and gynecologists (OBGs), physicians in group practice, and physicians in states which apply the legal doctrine of informed consent. In addition, we find that the number of years since medical residency is positively related to physicians' claims incidence during the first 27 years of practice, and that OBGs and medical specialists who spend more time with their patients per office visit incur fewer claims.

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