Complaints against doctors backed by the threat of litigation are sapping morale and undermining the practice of good medicine, shows a survey.

Complaints against doctors backed by the threat of litigation are sapping morale and undermining the practice of good medicine, shows a survey.

Four out of 10 doctors said they had had a complaint or claim for compensation made against them by a patient in the past three years. Seven out of 10 said they were practising more defensive medicine, ordering tests and investigations for trivial conditions.

The survey, by the doctors-only website medix-uk.com, was based on answers given by 700 doctors to questions partly devised by the Medical Defence Union. Although the findings were not statistically reliable, medical organisations said they highlighted a serious problem for the NHS.

There were 31,221 complaints against the 30,000 GPs in England in 1999-2000.

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