Category Archives: Pennsylvania

Malpractice Filings Drop in Pennsylvania

According to a report from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Pennsylvania medical malpractice filings dropped 10% in 2012. The report showed that 1,675 claims were filed in 2011 compared with 1,508 in 2012. By comparison, there was an average of 2,733 cases filed yearly between 2000 and 2003. In 2003, two significant changes to the malpractice rules in the state took effect. The first required plaintiffs in a medical malpractice case to obtain a “certificate of merit” from a medical professional, attesting that the medical care in the case fell outside of acceptable standards. The second change requires that the malpractice action be brought only in the county where the alleged malpractice took place, this change instituted to avoid what is known as “venue shopping,” when malpractice attorneys pick more favorable jurisdictions to have cases heard. A representative from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, a trial lawyers’ group, said that the decline indicated that more drastic changes to malpractice laws – such as caps on damages – are not necessary. In Philadelphia, where the majority of malpractice suits are filed in the state, 389 cases were filed in 2012, the second lowest number in 10 years and down from…

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Medical malpractice cases in Lackawanna County in 2012 drop by 53 percent

Lackawanna County’s medical malpractice case filings in 2012 fell 53.8 percent from the average filed in the early 2000s, an ongoing trend sparked by reforms initiated by the state Supreme Court more than a decade ago. Statewide and in most of Northeast Pennsylvania, attorneys have filed far fewer medical malpractice lawsuits annually since 2000-2002 after the passage of two rule changes by the court, an annual report found. One rule change required attorneys to file medical malpractice claims in the county where they occur, eliminating the practice of filing lawsuits in counties where jurors are more plaintiff-friendly. A second change required attorneys to obtain a certificate of merit indicating the procedure in question fell outside acceptable professional standards before they could file their cases. Last year, there were 1,508 medical malpractice cases filed in Pennsylvania, about 44.8 percent fewer than the average filed during the base years, or 2000-2002, according to an Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts report. “These numbers continue to reinforce the value in the requirements adopted by the courts for filing medical malpractice claims in an effort to balance access and fairness in the state court system,” Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille said in a…

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NY Physicians Demand Liability Cost Reduction, Protest Medicare Cuts , at Annual Meeting

At a time when New York physicians face a combustible mix of significant Medicare sequestration cuts, the requirement to implement costly mandatory electronic medical record and ICD-10 reporting systems, and deal with new federal health care reforms, New York State must do all in its power to bring down the extraordinary cost of medical liability insurance, urged physicians at the Medical Society of the State of New York’s Annual House of Delegates meeting this past weekend. “The public needs to be aware that expanding the availability of health insurance coverage to New Yorkers will not enhance timely quality care for patients unless steps are taken to assure that physicians can remain in practice to provide this care” stated Dr. Sam Unterricht, a Brooklyn ophthalmologist who became MSSNY’s new President at this meeting. “To do this, we need to reduce our egregious overhead costs, reduce unnecessary and time-consuming administrative burdens and receive fair payment from insurers for the care we provide to our patients.” New York physicians, particularly those who practice in the NYC-metropolitan region, pay medical liability premiums that are far more than most of their colleagues across the country. For example, for just a single year of coverage, the…

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What happened to tort reform?

Ignoring tort reform does no one any justice and essentially drives up the cost we all pay. It wasn’t long ago that the Congressional Budget Office determined that medical liability reform, also known as tort reform, could save our country money in health-care spending. In fact, they said it could save a lot of money — in the range of $54 billion. That’s not chump change for anyone. So, many people were happy when the Obama administration heard the words of the CBO and announced that $25 million in funding would be provided to establish medical liability and patient safety demonstration projects and planning grants. This was ushered in with the many health-system reforms passed earlier this year in Washington. But now that the grants have been awarded, many across the nation are scratching their heads and asking, “What about tort-reform projects?” According to Pennsylvania Supreme Court data, 85.1 percent of medical malpractice claims that end up in front of a jury result in a decision for the defense. In other words, the doctors and hospitals tend to win and win often when they are wrongly sued, possibly a sign that too many claims are advancing that shouldn’t. Certainly when…

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