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Medical malpractice claims down in Pennsylvania in last decade

When people go to a doctor for medical treatment, they expect to get appropriate treatment that helps to control or alleviate the problem. Sadly, this is not always the case. In some situations, the doctor does not provide treatment that meets the standard of care that has been set for a specific condition. Failing to live up to the established standard of care can lead to patient harm.

When a patient is harmed, medical malpractice claims can help the patient to cope with the injuries they suffer. Interestingly enough, the number of claims filed for medical malpractice in Pennsylvania has declined in recent years.

The decline in medical malpractice claims is being attributed primarily to two factors. One of these factors is that the lawsuit must be filed in the same county in which the alleged medical malpractice occurred. Filing in other counties is no longer allowed. The second factor affecting the number of medical malpractice lawsuits is that attorneys must get a certificate of merit regarding the claim from someone who is an expert in the area of alleged malpractice.

According to the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts, there were 1,546 medical malpractice filings in the state's civil courts in 2013. While that is an increase from the 1,510 in 2012, it is down 43.4 percent from the 2000 to 2002 base years used for comparison.

In 2013, there were five non-injury verdicts rendered. Of those, two were for the defense. That same year, juries ruled in favor of the defendants in a little more than 77 percent of cases.

While these facts might seem to suggest that medical malpractice lawsuits are not a suitable course of action for someone who was injured because of doctor negligence, it is important for victims of malpractice to know that this may still be a viable way to seek compensation. Working with a lawyer who understands the ins and outs of this process can help a victim decide how to proceed.

Source: WeAreCentralPA.com, "Pa. Medical Malpractice Cases Drop Significantly," June 23, 2014

Lehigh Valley Health, "Medical malpractice suits not rising," Tim Darragh, June 20, 2014

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