Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Decline in Pennsylvania but do Not Effect Legitimate Medical Malpractice Claims

Last month the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, Ronald Castille, released an important report regarding Pennsylvania medical malpractice cases.  The report showed that the number of medical malpractice cases has declined for the fifth consecutive year in our state.

In 2009, 1,533 medical malpractice cases were filed in Pennsylvania, a decline of 43.9% compared to the base years of 2000-2002.  2000-2002 serves as the base years because of significant changes that took place in 2003.  In 2003, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued rules that (1) required attorneys to get a medical professional certificate of merit that establishes that the medical procedures in the case fall outside of acceptable standards; and (2) required that lawsuits be brought only in the jurisdictions where the accidents occurred.

While these two rules have decreased the number of medical malpractice lawsuits in Pennsylvania, they were not designed to, nor have they had the effect of, preventing legitimate medical malpractice litigation.

  In the press release regarding this report, Chief Justice Castille is quoted as saying, “By these two rule changes, Pennsylvania is far ahead of the nation and of individual states in this arena, and we stand as a model of reform. Most importantly, justice for our citizens is still being delivered where patients are truly injured by medical mistakes.”