According to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in the state is at its lowest in a decade. In fact, the number of lawsuits has been cut nearly in half since stringent new rules were adopted in the state nearly a decade ago.
Of course tort reform advocates hail the news as a victory for the insurance industry, especially the medical malpractice insurance carriers. However, before the public accepts this as good news for the consumer, let’s look more closely at what this actually means. For instance, does it mean there has been a substantial increase in the quality of care for the citizens of Pennsylvania or does it mean that seeking civil justice after a medical error is just more difficult? Those who favor restricting access to the courts argue that such measures reduce “frivolous lawsuits” without providing data to support such a claim. In fact, medical errors continue to be a problem in this country and healthcare quality standards are not improving.
National patient safety studies have demonstrated that there is indeed a healthcare crisis in this country and restricting access to the courts is not the answer. Quality healthcare is the real issue and until an effort is made to address that issue, consumers are the real losers.
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