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Reduced rates in medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania

Dealing with an illness is not uncommon for residents in Pennsylvania. For many, it is not a serious event, but for others, medical intervention is required. Whether it is for medicine or surgery, patients put much trust in the diagnosis and treatment of their doctor or surgeon. But when a medical error occurs, the patient could suffer greatly by worsening their condition or causing an unrelated illness or injury.

Because the medical malpractice rate has gone down in Pennsylvania and other states across the nation, some question what has caused this decrease. While one would hope that it is due to better health care that is not the direct link. In some cases, health care has seen improvements in some areas, such as a decline in central line infections in ICUs, but many studies indicate that the error rates continue to be rather high.

For Pennsylvania, the reduction in rates is owed to statutory changes made in 2003. While there are no damage caps in the state, these changes worked to both reduce the number of claims filed and the number of damage payments made in the state. It is clear that these statutes have worked to deter filings and have done nothing to reduce or prevent medical malpractice. Some believe that these statutes should be amended so victims of medical negligence can receive adequate compensation for the injuries they suffered from a medical error.

When members of a medical staff fails to take due care and harms a patient, this could be grounds for a medical malpractice claim. The injured patient could receive a monetary award to cover related expenses such as medical bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, future losses and other damages.

It is important that patients understand their rights and options. This would allow them to take appropriate action if they are injured or harmed in the care of a doctor, surgeon or other medical staff.

Source: Times Leader, "Medical malpractice victims in Pennsylvania put at disadvantage," Shanin Specter, Oct. 13, 2014

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