Decline in Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Improving Access to Care, Gov. Rendell Says
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) on Thursday said that since 2002, state efforts to ease the medical malpractice insurance crisis have stopped the rise in premiums for physicians and given residents improved access to care, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. A report released last week by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts found that medical malpractice lawsuits statewide declined by 41% since early in the decade, with 1,602 malpractice suits being filed in 2008. According to Rendell, claims dropped by 50% since 2003 to $174 million. In addition, medical malpractice insurance premiums have decreased or stayed the same for physicians during the last three years, and the number of companies offering malpractice coverage increased from three in 2002 to 57 in 2009.
Rendell said, "The results have been extraordinarily impressive in abating the malpractice insurance crisis." He also said that the decline in malpractice insurance premiums has helped retain physicians in the state. As a result of the success, Gov. Rendell said he will not seek to renew the state-funded insurance subsidy program for physicians, called MCARE.
Mark Phenicie, legislative counsel for the Pennsylvania Association of Justice, said, "The report shows with absolutely no spin that medical malpractice is certainly stabilized," but "the most egregious cases can still be tried or settled." Daniel Glunk, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, said that physicians remain concerned that the size of individual damages awarded in some cases had not experienced as significant a decline, adding that Pennsylvania still has one of the highest malpractice insurance rates in the U.S. (Worden/Cattabiani, Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/24).