data discussing pennsylvania medical malpractice filings released

Earlier this week, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts released data outlining the number of medical malpractice cases filed throughout the state in 2014 and the results, while somewhat eye opening, must be taken with a grain of salt.

What exactly did the data show?

Statistics show that the number of medical malpractice case filings here in Pennsylvania reached 1,463 in 2014. While this seems like a substantial number at first glance, it is actually the lowest number since this data started being tracked by state officials back in 2000.

What about Allegheny County?

The report found that there were 262 medical malpractice case filings in Allegheny County in 2014, tied with 2007 for the lowest total and 34 fewer filings than 2013.

Did any county see an increase in medical malpractice case filings?

Yes, Butler County saw its medical malpractice case filings jump from 15 in 2013 to 18 in 2014.

What’s behind this decline in medical malpractice case filings?

Legal experts point to two rules changes made by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the early 2000s:

  • Attorneys are required to secure what is known as a certificate of merit from a medical professional certifying that the conduct in the medical malpractice case fell outside accepted standards of care. (Here, the medical professional must practice in the same field as the provider to be named in the lawsuit.)
  • Medical malpractice can only be filed in the counties where the harm originally occurred.

Should these numbers be of concern?

Those who read numbers like these should by no means ever think that they don’t have a case. Indeed, our primary purpose in sharing these numbers is to help debunk this misconception.

What these figures illustrate is that the aforementioned rules are working to prevent admittedly weak cases — those lacking the necessary investigation and preparation — from being filed in the first place.

To the contrary, those cases where a skilled legal professional has thoroughly investigated the underlying misconduct that resulted in patient harm, and developed both strong and compelling arguments are still being filed and still producing results. By way of illustration, consider that 127 medical malpractice cases went to trial in 2014. This is not to mention the number of confidential settlements reached outside of court.

As such, if you or a family member suffered any sort of harm at the hands of a medical professional, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney who can investigate what happened, explain the law, outline your options and fight to secure justice on your behalf.

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