Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pennsylvania Med Mal Filings Hit New Low

Political pundits and those swayed by insurance lobby propaganda often tout frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits as a big cause of our current health care woes. This despite numerous studies from such publications as the New England Journal of Medicine that have completely debunked this myth. Well as was the case in 2009, 2010 saw a record low in the number of medical malpractice cases that were filed in Pennsylvania.

As the TortsProf Blog posts here, citing the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System, Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille yesterday announced the release of state court system data on medical malpractice case filings and verdicts for 2010 that show declines in the number of lawsuits filed statewide for a sixth consecutive year.

In 2010, there were 1,491 filings, representing a 38.5 percent decline from the “base years” 2000-2002 (shown in Table 1, attached). In Philadelphia, the state’s judicial district with the largest caseload, the decline has been by nearly 70 percent during the same period.

The base years are the period just prior to two significant rule changes made by the Supreme Court. The first change required attorneys to obtain from a medical professional a certificate of merit that establishes that the medical procedures in a case fall outside acceptable standards. A second change required medical malpractice actions to be brought only in the county where the cause of action takes place — a move aimed at eliminating so-called “venue shopping.”

Because of the high cost associated with litigating medical malpractice actions in Pennsylvania as well as the daunting statistics with respect to Plaintiffs' recovery, many valid medical malpractice cases are simply no longer filed due to economics.  This is sad since our legal system was specifically developed to compensate people for the harm caused to them as the result of the negligence of others, even doctors.

And make no mistake that I have it out for doctors.  In fact, I am all for the new rules that, in part, are responsible for the decrease in medical malpractice lawsuits.  Only cases with real merit determined by another similarly situated physician should be filed.  I have also previously posted on the laws that, in my opinion, unfairly favor attorneys with respect to legal malpractice actions.  In my opinion, the courts are for the people that have been injured, through no fault of their own, by the careless actions of others.  Enacting laws the limit bogus lawsuits is fine so long as it does not limit the rights of the injured. Share this post :
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