The phrase "medical malpractice" may strike fear in the hearts of medical and hospital professionals. However the number of medical malpractice cases across the country has decreased in recent years. That general trend also includes Pennsylvania medical malpractice cases, with an overall 10 percent drop from 2011 to 2012-though not for Lancaster County.
In 2012, the number of medical malpractice cases filed in Lancaster County was the highest it had been in six years, with 35 cases filed, representing the highest numbers of medical malpractice cases in the state of Pennsylvania. The previous year, only 26 cases were filed in Lancaster County. Thus far, 2013 is on track to be a record-breaking year, with 20 medical malpractice cases already filed in the county.
Local professionals attribute the increase in Lancaster County cases to the influx of older residents moving in from other areas. The thinking goes that older residents tend to need medical care more often than younger residents, and therefore the likelihood of experiencing medical negligence increases as well. Others cite 2002 reforms as contributing to the increase in this county. These reforms were enacted to limit venue shopping, and require that medical malpractice cases be filed in the county were the malpractice allegedly occurred, among other requirements.
Medical malpractice cases can arise when a medical professional, such as a doctor, nurse or hospital, acts negligently in the performance of their medical duties. Doctors owe patients the duty of care and treatment with the degree of skill possessed by a reasonably competent physician. This duty is evaluated in the context of the same or similar circumstances as where the negligence occurred.
Source: lancasteronline.com, "Malpractice suits on the rise in county," Gil Smart, June 9, 2013