Doctors continue to be overwhelmed by frivolous lawsuits, according to updated Pennsylvania Medical Board statistics.
According to the Board, 7,725 Pennsylvania doctors were sued for alleged medical malpractice between May 22, 2002, when Act 13 was passed requiring doctors to report lawsuits filed against them, and August 26, 2005. That is over six doctors sued each day for 39 months.
The Board has reviewed 4,678 of the cases and issued a “Rule to Show Cause,” or warranted further investigation, in only 24 cases. The other 4,654 cases were closed without physician discipline.
“These statistics point to a building healthcare delivery catastrophe in Pennsylvania,” says Robert Surrick, executive director of Doctor’s Advocate. “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.”
Board statistics show that 3,016 Pennsylvania doctors were sued in fiscal 2004-05, up 44% from the previous year. 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 Surrick. “Patient access and care in Pennsylvania is being seriously jeopardized. This is a problem that affects us all. “
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