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 did go 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 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 in to that group.)