TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

PA: Med Mal Claims Level Off After 6 Years of Decline

Pennsylvania Courts Public Information Unit:  News for Immediate Release
May 7, 2012
[cid:image002.png@01CD2C69.47106F20]BROADCAST EDITORS NOTE: For audio actualities from Chief Justice Castille, click here<>.
EDITORS NOTE: Click here<> for graphic.

Medical Malpractice Data Levels Off
as Court Rules Yield Results

HARRISBURG—Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille today announced a leveling off in the number of medical malpractice case filings statewide after a six-year decline.

Although the figures released today for 2011 show a slight increase in the total number of lawsuits filed, there remains a 44.1 percent overall decline in filings for the latest reporting period from the statistical “base years” of 2000-2002. (See Table 1<>) In Philadelphia, the judicial district with the largest caseload, the decline exceeded 65 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 professional 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.”

The figures also show that 2011 had the fewest number of jury verdicts in comparison to earlier years. (See Table 2<>) The same data also shows more than 70% of the jury verdicts were for the defense. The number of non-jury verdicts for 2011 remained in single digits for a sixth consecutive year. (See Table 3<>)

“What we’re seeing is essentially a leveling off in what had been a growing decline in numbers that is not surprising,” Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille said. “Although the numbers are likely to show slight changes in the years ahead, the pattern suggests a solid footing for the systematic tracking and rule changes initiated and instituted a decade ago by the Supreme Court to address concern over medical malpractice litigation.”


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