The number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Pennsylvania declined for a third consecutive year in 2007, according to figures released Monday by the state Supreme Court.
The number of suits, 1,617, represented a 4.5 percent decline from 2006 and a 40.8 percent drop from an annual average of roughly 2,700 malpractice lawsuits filed from 2000 to 2002.
Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille attributed the decline to key changes made several years ago — a court requirement in 2003 that an independent physician or expert certify the viability of a medical malpractice lawsuit and a 2002 law ending the practice of “venue shopping” in which attorneys file cases in the county where a favorable jury verdict is most likely.
Those changes were made to help stabilize premiums in response to doctors’ complaints that spiraling insurance costs were forcing them to leave Pennsylvania.
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