HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – The number of medical malpractice cases continued their downward trend in Pennsylvania last year.

Early in the past decade, medical malpractice litigation became a major cause for concern, and in 2003 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court instituted rule changes.

The state court system established a baseline of data for the years 2000 to 2002, the years prior to the rule changes. Compared to the average of those baseline years, the 1,491 medical malpractice suits filed in Pennsylvania last year represents a decline of more than 45 percent — the sixth straight year that the number of filings dropped statewide.

In Philadelphia, filings were down almost 70 percent from the average of the baseline years.

The 381 filings in Philadelphia last year is almost a thousand fewer than in 2002, the peak year of the last decade, and 110 fewer than in 2009.

Reported by Harrisburg Bureau chief Tony Romeo

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