The annual report on medical malpractice filings from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts shows that the number of cases filed statewide has reduced for the sixth consecutive year. The 2010 filings represented a 45.4 percent decline from 2000-20002 statewide, and a nearly 70% decline in Philadelphia. As well, more than 80 percent of jury trials throughout the state have resulted in defense verdicts. The AOPC has been compiling data on medical malpractice actions for the last seven years. The data shows a direct correlation between the reduction in medical malpractice cases and requirements for certificates of merit and the elimination of venue shopping (all medical malpractice actions must now be brought in the county where the alleged malpractice occurred).
On an interesting side note, Lehigh County was by far the statistical leader in cases with verdicts in excess of $5 million (with eight), but the eight verdicts for more than $5 million were all against Charles Cullen, a former registered nurse who pled guilty in 2004 to murdering numerous patients. These eight cases were brought by the estates of patients against Cullen and the medical facilities that employed him. The medical facilities were dismissed from the cases on summary judgment, and the trial proceeded solely against Cullen who did not defend the matter. Medical malpractice prevention hot tip- don’t murder your patients.