Almost half of doctors who get sued for malpractice respond by refusing to see certain types of patients, and many also advise their children to avoid medicine as a career, according to one survey.

"Malpractice litigation may have an impact on physicians' freedom to exercise their own clinical judgment," writes Dr. Sara C. Charles and two other researchers in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The researchers mailed surveys to 1,000 doctors and received 355 responses on questions designed to assess the mental the physical state after being sued. The results were compared with a group of doctors who had not been sued but predicted how they would react if they were.

The sued doctors were more likely to feel depressed (79 percent, compared with 51 percent of those not sued), to suffer insomnia (56 to 43), and feel anger (86 to 46).

Forty-nine percent said they would refuse to see patients "with whom the risk of litigation seemed greater," compared with 30 percent of the nonsued, the journal reports.

Four of 10 said they would consider retiring early as a result of the suit, and one out of three said they would tell their children to find a different career. Law, perhaps?