We carried out a cross-sectional online survey of fellows and members of the Royal College of Physicians to establish physicians' experiences of adverse patient safety events and near misses, and the professional and personal impact of these. 1,755 physicians answered at least one question; 1,334 answered every relevant question. Of 1,463 doctors whose patients had an adverse event or near miss, 1,119 (76%) believed this had affected them personally or professionally. 1,077 (74%) reported stress, 995 (68%) anxiety, 840 (60%) sleep disturbance and 886 (63%) lower professional confidence. 1,192 (81%) became anxious about the potential for future errors. Of 1,141 who had used NHS incident reporting systems, only 315 (28%) were satisfied with this process. 201 (14%) received useful feedback, 201 (19%) saw local improvements and 277 (19%) saw system changes. 364 (25%) did not report an incident that they should have. Adverse safety events affect physicians, but few formal sources of support are available. Most doctors use incident-reporting systems, but many describe a lack of useful feedback, systems change or local improvement.