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Malpractice Lawsuits Continue Decline

The number of Pennsylvania malpractice lawsuits dropped for the sixth – please think about that for a second: sixth – consecutive year in 2010. The total number of malpractice lawsuits crashed from 2904 in 2002 to 1,491 last year.

Of the malpractice cases that went to a jury last year in Pennsylvania, doctors, hospitals, and health care providers won 82% of the time (33 of 163).

Hysterically, the tone deaf Hospital & Health System Association of Pennsylvania took the moment to point out that additional reforms are needed. Really? Hire a PR department or something, guys. It is such a credibility killer.

Back in 2004, doctors’ fervor for caps in medical malpractice cases reached a new high. My theory is that Medical Mutual (easily the largest medical malpractice insurer in Maryland, covering about 75% of Maryland doctors) engaged in a little creative accounting and timely settlement negotiations that allowed Medical Mutual to create a crisis. So the Maryland legislature jumped and modified the law to give doctors special protections and decreased the cap for doctors in a way that really changed the value of medical malpractice wrongful death cases in Maryland. About 10 minutes later, Medical Mutual reported a $68.6 million malpractice premium surplus. I really don’t think the legislature realizes now that Maryland malpractice insurance companies are the little boy who cried wolf.
(Admittedly, a lot of special interests fall into that group.)