Medical malpractice cases decrease in Pa.

The number of medical malpractice suits filed in Pennsylvania in 2003 fell by 28.6% vs. the previous 3-year period, according to preliminary data compiled by the state's Supreme Court. Philadelphia showed the greatest decrease with a 58% drop, with Pittsburgh coming in second with a 31.5% drop.

The decrease in the number of medical malpractice cases was attributed to two tort reform measures adopted in 2003. One measure requires attorneys to confirm that a suit is not frivolous by obtaining a certificate of merit from a medical professional. The other measure limits the filing of cases to the county where the cause of action took place, reported Medical Malpractice Monitor (4/04).

Critics of the state's first effort to track the number of medical malpractice suits cautioned that the data evaluating just 1 year do not indicate a trend. They also noted that the data failed to evaluate the severity of awards and settlements or whether the number of meritless lawsuits decreased.

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