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Holding doctors accountable for medical mistakes

Pennsylvania residents place a great deal of trust in their doctors. Doctors go through years of education and training to give them special expertise in treating patients, and patients, in turn, trust that the doctor will act competently and professionally in administering this care.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Patients can find their trust in their doctor broken when serious injuries occur due to the doctor's mistakes. When these tragic incidents occur, patients can find some recourse and hold the doctor accountable through a medical malpractice action.

There are a number of steps that must occur before injured patients obtain relief in the malpractice action. For instance, Pennsylvania law requires individuals to obtain a certificate of merit before filing a malpractice case. The certificate of merit comes from a medical professional, and states that the care in question falls outside acceptable standards.

Injured patients must also ensure they file their suit properly. This includes filing the suit in the right county, as it must be filed in the county where the injured took place.

The above requirements have been blamed for a decline in the overall number of medical malpractice suits filed in the State. Indeed, there has been a 46 percent decline in the numbers of cases since 2000 to 2002, prior to the above requirements being instituted. Those who are injured can still find relief for their injuries, but they must ensure they understand the legal requirements for filing suit.

Source: Clinical Advisor, "Pennsylvania sees dramatic drop in medical malpractice lawsuits," Ann W. Latner, May 27, 2015

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