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Fewer Medical Malpractice Filings in Pennsylvania a Result of 2003 Reforms

The number of medical malpractice suits filed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania dipped slightly in 2008. This decrease may be attributable to two reforms instituted in 2003. These measures included a requirement that a medical malpractice case be filed in the county where the alleged malpractice arose and a rule requiring the filing of a certificate of merit. The certificate of merit rule requires that in any case where malpractice is alleged, a qualified physician must state that there is a reasonable probability that the defendant deviated from the accepted standard of medical care. These two reforms were passed to prevent "forum-shopping" for plaintiff friendly venues and to limit the filing of frivolous lawsuits.

There were 1,602 medical malpractice filings statewide in 2008, down from 1,641 in 2007 according to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Interestingly, in 2002, one year prior to the institution of the certificate of merit requirement, 2,904 medical malpractice suits were commenced. The number of filings in Philadelphia fell from 1,365 in 2002 to 553 in 2008.

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