Pennsylvania News

Task Force Formed to Collect Medical Malpractice Litigation Data

Erie County Judge John A. Bozza is leading a team of six doctors and six lawyers, launching a study of medical malpractice litigation. The team has already established several areas of inquiry, including how many medical malpractice suits are filed, settled, or go to trial, and how Pennsylvania’s Medical Professional Liability Catastrophic Loss Fund and insurance regulations affect the situation.

“Our goal,” says Bozza, “is to understand more precisely what are those things that influence medical malpractice premiums.”

Bozza has been observing the ongoing struggle between doctors and trial lawyers over the medical malpractice insurance crisis for months, and formed the team in response. “I look at it as more of an opportunity to create a model of cooperation in the ongoing collection of information and scrutiny of the issue,” he claims.

The cooperation comes at a time when doctors and attorneys seem unlikely to disagree more. Doctors claim that the skyrocketing insurance bills they must pay result from exorbitant jury awards in medical malpractice lawsuits. They are calling for a cap on the amount of money that a medical malpractice victim could be awarded for pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages. Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys, in the meantime, claim that the victims are the ones who actually lose in the case of medical malpractice caps, and that were doctors better at policing themselves, the number of malpractice cases would drop. Bozza’s hope is that his team will be able to determine actual causes, resulting in legislation that will benefit all parties. Currently, the state offices of Pennsylvania do not track malpractice cases, and not many counties analyze such data, either.

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