Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Suits Decline
A recent article in The Legal Intelligencer discusses an annual court study which reveals that a 44% drop in the amount of medical malpractice filings has occurred. This decline is attributed to reform procedures initiated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2003. The article mentions that PA medical malpractice cases must be filed in counties where the alleged malpractice and subsequent patient harm occurred. In addition, cases must be filed with a certificate of merit from a physician reflecting a reasonable likelihood that a medical malpractice defendant digressed from the conventional and expected standard of medical care that patients should receive. These measures are meant to aid in smoothing out the litigation process so it can best serve the people of Pennsylvania.
Based on the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts’ most recent statistical data on medical malpractice litigation, the number of medical malpractice suits begun in Pennsylvania dropped to 1,533 in 2009. In 2002, the year before the reform measures went into effect, 2,904 filings were made; a number that showed significant decline in 2008 with 1,602 filings. Furthermore, Philadelphia saw a large decline in filings with 491 in 2009 in comparison to 1,365 in 2002.
According to the article, skilled attorney, Kevin R. Marciano of Philadelphia firm, Cherry Fieger & Marciano, LLP, and president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice’s trial lawyers group, stated that the recent collection of statistics demonstrates that the rules governing medical malpractice cases are working. Kevin R. Marciano also stated that when the rules surrounding Pennsylvania medical malpractice law were being written, trial lawyers were involved with the reasonable and fair implementation of venue rules and certificate of merit requirements. In acknowledging that other changes, such as a cap on damages or specialty medical malpractice courts, would potentially throw-off “a level playing field,” Marciano said that “people’s rights are going to be infringed upon” if such alterations are introduced to a process that has already demonstrated accuracy and efficiency in its functioning abilities.
Medical malpractice in Pennsylvania can happen to anyone. Whether a medical professional’s negligence results in surgical error, misdiagnosis, prescription drug error, birth injury, or a delay in treatment; patients of all ages may be at risk of suffering serious injury or even death. This is why it is crucial for legal matters relating to medical malpractice filings and cases to be given proceeding standards that are fair and just.