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 418 cases in 2011. There were 27 jury verdicts in Philadelphia in 2012 compared to an average of more than 100 between from 2000 to 2003.