The website for the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania has reported that the latest available medical malpractice case information shows a decline in the number of filings in Pennsylvania, continuing a spiraling trend seen in eight of the last 10 years since the systematic collection of the statistics began.
The site reported that in 2012, there were 1,508 filings in Pennsylvania’s civil courts. The figure was down from the 1,675 filings in 2011. The latest filings represent a 44.8 percent decline from the "base years" 2000-2002. In Philadelphia, the state’s judicial district with the largest caseload, the decline has been by nearly 68 percent during the same period.
"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," Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille said. "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 in the data released today are the period just prior to two significant rule changes made by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. 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. 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."
Statistics for Erie County show that there were 34 medical malpractice case filings in 2012, a 37% decrease from the 2000-2002 base years’ average of 54. In 2012, there were only three cases that went to verdict in medical malpractice cases in Erie County, and all resulted in judgment in favor of the defendants. In 2011, the most recent year complete filing statistics were reported, only 2% of civil case filings were professional liability lawsuits.
The Unified Judicial System website publishes a whole range of statistics relating to medical malpractice and other types of cases, which can be found at: http://www.pacourts.us/news-and-statistics/research-and-statistics/