Medical Malpractice Case Statistics Show Nearly 45 Percent Decline in Number of Case Filings Statewide

Med mal reduct 2013 news

News Article

June 4, 2013

Audio clips of the chief justice are available on the UJS website

The latest available medical malpractice case information released today shows a decline in the number of filings in Pennsylvania, continuing a spiraling trend seen in eight of the last 10 years since the systematic collection of the statistics began.

In 2012, there were 1,508 filings in Pennsylvania’s civil courts. The figure was down from the 1,675 filings in 2011. The latest filings represent a 44.8 percent decline from the “base years” 2000-2002 (shown in Table 1, attached).  In Philadelphia, the state’s judicial district with the largest caseload, the decline has been by nearly 68 percent during the same period.

“These numbers continue to reinforce the value in the requirements adopted by the courts for filing medical malpractice claims in an effort to balance access and fairness in the state court system,” Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille said. “This represents another example of the history of collaboration and cooperation among the three branches of state government in addressing what, just a few years ago, was one of the Commonwealth’s more vexing challenges.”

The base years in the data released today are the period just prior to two significant rule changes made by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The first change required attorneys to obtain — from a medical professional — a “certificate of merit” that establishes that the medical procedures in a case fall outside acceptable standards. A second change required medical malpractice actions to be brought only in the county where the cause of action takes place — a move aimed at eliminating so-called “venue shopping.” 

Tables 2 and 3 detail medical malpractice jury and non-jury verdict amounts for 2012.  In comparison to earlier years, Tables 2 and 3 show that 2012 had slightly more jury verdicts than the previous year. However, the total was the second lowest of its kind in the decade of comprehensive statistical gathering. The tables also show that nearly 80 percent of the verdicts in 2012 were for the defense. Two of the only three reported non-jury verdicts during the year were for the defense.

None of the tabulations include settlements. Settlement amounts are often sealed or not reported to the court.

For a more complete look at Pennsylvania’s medical malpractice case information, visit:




Media contact: Art Heinz


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