Pennsylvania’s Medical Liability Statistics for 2017: A Closer Look

Last Updated: Dec 4, 2018

gavel-stethoscope-bluePennsylvania has released its medical liability statistics for the 2017 calendar year. Overall, the numbers have remained stable over the past several years. 

Medical liability case filings remain relatively low when compared with cases reported during the 2000-2002 time period. The first year the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) began reporting these statistics was 2000, and the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund (Mcare) Act was signed into law in March 2002.

2017 Jury Verdict Numbers

A total of 102 medical liability cases were tried via jury verdict in 2017, a 7.27 percent decrease from last year’s number of cases.

The number of verdicts returned in favor of the defense was slightly lower than the previous year. In 2017, 79.4 percent of verdicts were returned in favor of the defense, compared with 84.5 percent in 2016.

A total of 102 medical liability cases were tried via jury verdict in 2017. There were 21 jury cases in 2017 that resulted in a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. Of the cases in which the outcome was an award to the plaintiff, the results were as follows:

  • 7 verdicts with awards less than $500,000
  • 4 verdicts with awards between $500,000 and $1 million
  • 8 verdicts with awards between $1 million and $5 million
  • 2 verdicts with awards between $5 million and $10 million
  • No verdicts with an award greater than $10 million

What has led to the reduction in medical liability litigation since its high point during 2000-2002? A variety of reasons are likely contributing to the decrease, including the rising cost of litigation, an increase in the use of alternative dispute resolution methods like arbitration, and Mcare's requirement that plaintiffs obtain a certificate of merit from an expert that establishes that the medical procedures in a case fall outside acceptable standards.

Additional Pennsylvania medical liability statistics from 2000-2017, including breakdowns by county, are available from the AOPC. Access the statistics.

Related Resources

On behalf of Pennsylvania physicians, the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) provides strong legal advocacy in the courts, legislature, and state government agencies. We also offer our members resources about laws and regulations that impact the practice of medicine. Find out more at PAMED's Legal Resource Center:

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