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Rule changes lead to fewer malpractice suits in Pennsylvania

Medical malpractice lawsuits are a way of holding medical professionals responsible for their mistakes. The medical profession and their insurance companies, however, have for years been lobbying for changes that make such lawsuits harder to bring.

Proving a medical malpractice case is not easy to do. The injured claimant must prove that the physician departed from the standard of care in his or her field. Expert testimony is necessary to prove what the accepted standard of care was, and to prove the physician in question failed to meet that standard. In addition to proving negligence, the claimant must also prove the malpractice caused injury and damages.

In Pennsylvania, the number of medical malpractice claims has decreased in the last decade. According to state court administrators, the number of lawsuits alleging medical negligence has dropped 43 percent statewide since 2000 and 2002. In Philadelphia, where the most cases were filed, the drop was 68 percent.

This decline may be attributed to some changes in the court rules. Those who want to bring a malpractice lawsuit now have to bring it in the county where the alleged malpractice occurred as opposed to filing a suit in any available court. Under the new rules attorneys must get a certificate, from an expert in the medical field, confirming the case has merit.

These rule changes should not deter victims of medical negligence from seeking legal help and filing a claim if necessary. If an individual believes they have a viable medical malpractice suit based on doctor error, consulting an attorney with experience in these cases can be beneficial.

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

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