As more medical facilities and health services become available in smaller Pennsylvania communities, more residents have access to care for which they once had to travel a considerable distance. Local medical care means that people can keep themselves healthier while staying close to home. But there is some speculation that this improved access to medical facilities and services could mean an increase in medical malpractice cases.

In Lancaster County, for example, the number of medical malpractice cases has been rising in recent years, just as the number of medical facilities and specialists is expanding. Back in 2001, there were only two medical malpractice cases filed. The next couple of years saw an average of 6.5 cases each. Ten years later, 2012 has seen 18 such cases, compared to 26 medical malpractice lawsuits in all of the previous year. If this trend continues, 2012 could rival 2006, which saw a total of 39 medical malpractice cases filed.

Is there something beyond the law of averages at work? Possibly. One point worth considering is the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s rule change in 2002 that requires medical malpractice suits to be filed where the malpractice allegedly occurred. Rather than go to a large city like Philadelphia, where juries more commonly award large malpractice suits against doctors, patients and their families must now file suits where they received their care.

Another factor to consider is the economy, which may be driving up the number of personal injury lawsuits overall. Furthermore, some attorneys and doctors have said that in Lancaster and other small communities, residents may not be as reluctant to sue as they once were.

One more wild card is the Affordable Care Act, which will result in several million more patients and could consequently drive up medical malpractice cases across the state.

No matter what the reason for these increases in medical malpractice lawsuits, the fact remains that if you’re the victim of a medical error, you have the right to pursue damages, no matter where you were treated. An experienced personal injury attorney can help make sure that you’re fully compensated for the pain and suffering you experienced as a result of negligence by a medical professional — either in Pennsylvania’s biggest cities or smallest towns.

Source: Lancaster Online, “Medical malpractice lawsuits up here,” Gil Smart, July 22, 2012

  • Our firm handles a wide variety of medical malpractice cases and other personal injury issues. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Harrisburg medical malpractice page.