24 April 2009

PA Malpractice cases drop

New rules passed in Pennsylvania in 2002 have resulted in a 41% drop in the number of malpractice filings, according to a report cited in the
WSJ Health Blog:
One of the new rules requires a “certificate of merit” from a medical professional, establishing that “the medical procedures in a case fell below applicable standards of care.”  Another rule requires cases to be filed in the county where the alleged malpractice took place — an effort to discourage so-called venue shopping, where cases would be filed in counties thought to be sympathetic to plaintiffs.
Interesting.   Though this is a pretty low bar to set -- I thought most states had certificate of merit requirements. Maybe I'm wrong.  If so, then perhaps this simple indicates that malpractice claims merely went from insanely high to the national baseline? 

1 comment:

Max Kennerly said...

I don't believe certificates of merit are the majority rule yet, but they are not a bad idea. Frankly, the last thing I'd like to do is file a case I only learn down the road I can't get an expert to support, which is why all of our cases get reviewed by nurses and physicians prior to filing, regardless of the certificates of merit.

Let me add, however, that you might want to take what I say with a grain of salt: procedural restrictions like certificates of merit are very beneficial to firms, like mine, with an established medmal practice. A certificate of merit adds a couple hundred or couple thousand dollars of expert fees to the cost of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, thereby discouraging your everyday attorneys, even everyday personal injury attorneys, from attempting to file medical malpractice lawsuits. Instead, they refer the cases to the established firms, thereby consolidating the market into far fewer firms.

Viewing it as dispassionately as I can, I still don't think that consolidation is a bad thing -- there's still ample competition, and it decreases the likelihood of unmeritorous suits being filed and eventually dismissed, to the detriment of everyone involved. But it is something to keep in mind.