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Medical Malpractice on the Rise in West Virginia? Not Really.

The drumbeat has already started for medical malpractice tort reform in West Virginia. The number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in West Virginia has grown from 130 in 2004 to 174 in 2007.

Ignoring the fact that with 75 medical malpractice lawsuits have been filed in West Virginia through July, the current pace is below 2003, there has to be some acknowledgment that there are highs and lows in the number of medical malpractice filings through mere happenstance. Of course, the West Virginia State Medical Association is already beating the drum beat that new action might need to protect doctors.

Underscoring how random malpractice lawsuit filings are as a predictor of trends, over one-third of the malpractice lawsuits filed in West Virginia in 2008 were in July, which is usually a month with a relatively low number of lawsuits filed. Accordingly, this response from the West Virginia State Medical Association is – to be generous – reactionary.

This same thing happened in Maryland. A rash of medical malpractice settlement and verdicts in a single year – which could have been on purpose – led to a medical malpractice crisis that quickly revealed itself not to be a crisis at all.

Click here for the AP article on this story.