The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has released its latest report on medical malpractice filings and verdicts, and they show an ongoing decline in the number of lawsuits filed, and in the number of verdicts in favor of plaintiffs. To read the various reports (including those from prior years), click here.
Of note, the report confirms a 44 percent decrease in the number of medical malpractice cases filed since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the General Assembly adopted “reform measures” in 2003, including changes in where such cases may be filed, and the requirement that plaintiffs provide a Certificate of Merit with their filings. In addition, defendants continue to win most of these cases. The report indicates that 154 med mal cases went to trial in 2009, and 131 (85%) had defense verdicts.
Clearly, “reform” has worked in reducing the number of filings and the number of plaintiff verdicts. The key corollary question is whether doctors are in fact committing fewer errors or is the decrease merely a reflection of how hard it is to win these cases. The legal profession can’t answer that question, however.