The number of lawsuits filed against doctors in Pennsylvania rose by over 40 percent in that past year, according to the state Medical Board.
According to the Board, 7,725 Pennsylvania doctors were sued for alleged medical malpractice between May 22, 2002, when the state began requiring them to report all lawsuits against them and August 26, 2005. That figure average out to lawsuits being filed against more than six doctors sued each day for 39 months. The Board reviewed 4,678 of the cases, finding that only a very slight percentage, totaling 24 cases, warranted further investigation.
“These statistics point to a building healthcare delivery catastrophe in Pennsylvania,” says Robert B. Surrick, Esquire, Executive Director of Doctor’s Advocate, an advocacy group working to promote medical liability reform in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“Frivolous lawsuits are fueling the medical malpractice fire that is forcing doctors out of Pennsylvania. As a result, patients’ access to quality care from specialists is being threatened. This horrifying trend must end.”
The statistics compiled by the Medical Board show that 3,016 Pennsylvania doctors were sued in fiscal 2004-05, up 44% from the previous year. Additionally, the state has seen a sharp decrease in doctors specializing in the high-risk area of neurology. According to the Pennsylvania Neurological Society, the number of neurosurgeons in the state dropped from 214 in 1996 to 151 in 2005, well below the minimum safe number for the state. And 33 out of 44 neurosurgical residents from Pennsylvania medical schools left the state upon graduation, citing medical malpractice as a concern, according to the American Medical Association Masterfile.
“I encourage the media to investigate this crisis and help inform the public,” said Mr. Surrick. “Patient access and care in Pennsylvania is being seriously jeopardized. This is a problem that affects us all. “