Medical malpractice is a common claim in Pennsylvania that includes injuries from a wide range of mishaps, including failure to diagnose, birth defects, medical negligence, and misdiagnosis. In Pennsylvania, medical malpractice hinges on medical negligence. Doctors carry malpractice insurance to cover injuries to a patient in the event they are found liable for malpractice due to negligence. In 2014, there were 128 medical malpractice cases that made it to a jury in Pennsylvania. Approximately 82% of these cases ended up in a verdict that favored the defense. This statistic does not leave high hopes for those who are seeking remedies through the court.
There is a common misconception that medical malpractice claims cause malpractice insurance premiums to skyrocket. One would think that a statistic showing that 82% of jury verdicts favor the doctors would prove otherwise, but this has not been sufficient evidence to dispel this misconception. In an attempt to put this theory into more perspective, there are other factors to take into consideration, which show that lawsuits have no bearing on insurance premiums:
- The number of medical malpractice cases brought in Pennsylvania courts has decreased over 44% from 2002 to 2014. Between 2000 and 2002 an average of 2,733 malpractice cases were brought to court. Since then, only 1,512 cases were brought in 2014.
- The rate of malpractice award per Pennsylvania physician dropped. In 2014, statistics show that cases had a 16% chance of success in front of a jury.
- The number of million-dollar verdicts has been on the decline. In 2000, there were 44 jury verdicts for $1 million or more. However, in 2014, there were only a total of seven cases with verdicts over $1 million.
- Over the past 14 years, the number of doctors in the state of Pennsylvania has grown from 35,379 to 42,811. At this rate, the physician population is growing faster in Pennsylvania than in the rest of the United States. There has been a strong correlation between the rise in the number of doctors in the state and the decline in the number of malpractice cases.
If medical malpractice is not the cause of rising insurance premiums, then what is? From the medical field’s perspective, inadequate patient safety is causing the malpractice crisis. This issue comes into play with medical malpractice because many people die or are injured each year from medical mistakes that are totally preventable. By focusing more on patient safety, doctors and hospitals are able to eliminate errors and provide safer care for patients. This will have an overall effect on the amount of payments made to patients in malpractice cases.
Contact an Attorney
If you were injured because of medical negligence or a medical mistake while under the care of your doctor, it is important that you seek the help and counsel of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Medical malpractice claims can be very complex and there may be a very short time period in which you must act before your claim is barred by the statute of limitations. If you need help seeking damages for your claim, contact an experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney today.