Medical Malpractice Filings Down – New Statutes Reducing Number of Lawsuits

We have some preliminary data on the number of medical malpractice case filings in certain counties since the October 1, 2009 effective date of the medical malpractice notice and certificate of good faith statutes.

One new statute requires that actual notice be given to defendants in med mal cases before a lawsuit is filed.  The other requires counsel to execute a certificate of good faith that arises after consultation with experts.

Here are the med mal filings in the following counties in the last three months of 2007 and 2008:

County 4th Q. 2007 4th Q. 2008
Davidson 30 11
Franklin 2 1
Hamilton 5 1
Knox 15 2
Maury 1 1
Putnam 2 1
Robertson 0 1
Rutherford 7 1
Shelby 38 3
Sullivan 12 1
Washington 8 4
            Total 120 28

Thus, in these counties, med mal filings were down over 75%. The total number of med mal filings in  the entire state for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008 was 537.  These eleven counties had 440, or 82%, of the total med mal filings for the entire state.  Assuming that the other 88 counties had reduced filings in the same proportion to the counties listed, total filings for the last three months of 2008 would number 35.

To be fair, three months is not a representative sample.  In addition,  there was probably an increase in filings before October 1, 2007, which would have depressed filings in the next three months.  Finally, if notice is given, the statute can be extended under certain circumstances, and that too could account for a decrease in filings in the last quarter of 2008.

That being said, this is the first objective data that we have seen that the new statute has impacted med mal filings.  I have predicted that med mal filings will be down 40% as a result of the new statutes.  In other words, I believe that filings will be down to about 332 per year as a result of the new statutes.  Time will tell if my projection is correct.

By the way, the new statutes are T.C.A. Sec. 29-26-121 (Notice)  and 29-26-122 (Certificate of Good Faith).