Figures show medical malpractice case filings in Pa. down again

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jun 14, 2013

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) -- According to figures released last week by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, the number of medical malpractice case filings in the state continue to decline.

The latest available medical malpractice case information, released June 4, shows a spiraling trend seen in eight of the last 10 years since the systematic collection of the statistics began.

According to the AOPC, in 2012 there were 1,508 filings in Pennsylvania's civil courts. That's more than 100 down from the 1,675 filings in 2011.

The latest filings also represent a nearly 45 percent decline from the "base years" of 2000 to 2002.

Philadelphia -- the state's largest judicial district with the largest caseload -- has seen a nearly 68 percent decline during the same period, based on the AOPC's newest figures.

"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," Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille said in a statement.

"This represents another example of the history of collaboration and cooperation among the three branches of state government in addressing what, just a few years ago, was one of the Commonwealth's more vexing challenges."

The "base years" are the period just prior to two significant rule changes made by the state's high 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.

The second 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."

For a more complete look at the state's medical malpractice case information, click here.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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