Malpractice stress syndrome in radiologists and radiotherapists: perceived causes and consequences

Radiol Med. 2007 Oct;112(7):1069-84. doi: 10.1007/s11547-007-0206-9. Epub 2007 Oct 21.
[Article in English, Italian]


Purpose: Radiology is among the specialties with an increasing risk of litigation. Regardless of the outcome of legal proceedings, physicians who are sued usually perceive the claim as an assault on their integrity and may suffer psychological or physical effects known as "malpractice stress syndrome".

Materials and methods: Two hundred and six radiologists and 108 radiotherapists responded to a questionnaire containing specific items concerning their perception of malpractice stress and their opinions about the causes of clinical errors, as well as an assessment of work satisfaction and general health.

Results: One third of physicians had been sued for malpractice. Age was significantly related to the occurrence of malpractice litigation. Radiological errors were purportedly related to occupational discomfort, and the latter variable was significantly associated with work dissatisfaction and a low level of psychological and physical well-being.

Conclusions: Radiologists are well acquainted with medical malpractice and its causes; however, they have limited familiarity with clinical risk management practices and often ignore procedures of informed consent. A targeted educational effort is required to overcome these shortcomings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Diagnostic Errors / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Malpractice*
  • Medical Errors* / prevention & control
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Radiology*
  • Radiotherapy*
  • Risk Management*
  • Stress, Psychological* / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Syndrome