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Malpractice lawsuits in PA continue to decline

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 23, 2011

The number of medical malpractice cases filed against Pennsylvania doctors and hospitals dropped in 2010, the sixth consecutive annual decline. "In reality, medical malpractice lawsuits are not as prolific as people think," Pittsburgh attorney George Kontos said. "Any good attorney is very cautious about taking a case. I probably reject about 90% of people that come to me." In 2002 -- the year malpractice lawsuits peaked at 2,904 -- new rules designed to weed out frivolous lawsuits took effect, and experts credit those rules with the decline in lawsuits in the years that followed. One requires plaintiffs to get another doctor in the same field to sign off on the claims, showing the suit had merit. Another requires malpractice claims to be filed in the county where the alleged malpractice occurred. That prevents lawyers from filing cases in counties where they believe juries will be more sympathetic, lawyers said. Last year, 1,491 malpractice suits were filed, according to a report by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.