PAMED Condemns PA Supreme Court on Rescinding Medical Liability Venue Rule

Last Updated: Aug 25, 2022

Message from Chair, PAMED Board of Trustees, Ed Balaban, DO regarding the Supreme Court’s Action on Venue Shopping

In 2003, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted a rule that would allow medical malpractice cases to be filed only in the county in which the alleged malpractice occurred. Today the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania adopted amendments to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedures to rescind the 2003 rule governing venue in medical professional liability actions. This change will now expand venue to additional counties beyond the county in which the alleged malpractice occurred. The Civil Procedural Rules Committee will re-examine the 2022 rule amendments two years after the effective date of January 1, 2023.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society staunchly condemns this enormous step backwards to the days of an unstable medical liability market and a mass exodus of physicians from this Commonwealth.

After twenty years of rebuilding towards a more robust physician presence and a better liability market in Pennsylvania the Supreme Court has, in essence, invited an unnecessary return to the “good old days” of stuffing trial lawyers’ pockets to the detriment of a steady and safe health care environment.

As we experienced in the late 1990s and 2000s, Pennsylvania will begin to see high risk specialists like orthopedists, neurosurgeons and trauma surgeons halt procedures, OB/Gyns stop delivering babies, and our highly trained residents choosing to leave Pennsylvania to practice in states that are more welcoming to them.

The bottom line is that the court has ignored over 5,000 comments from the physicians, patients, and countless professional organizations across the state to the detriment of the safety and health of Pennsylvania patients.

PAMED won’t stop fighting for what is fair for patients and physicians across the state. We will look for a remedy to ensure the continuity of services, availability of high-quality healthcare, and stabilize medical liability.

For more information you can find a copy of the rule text, adoption report, and certified order.

4 comments

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  1. Dale Mandel | Aug 29, 2022

    Dr. Briskin, 

    When I read the document entitled Rule Text, it appeared  to me (just as it appears to you) that malpractice suits could only be brought in the county where the care was provided.  It took quite a bit of time to find that THE RULE TEXT has ALL of the changed to the law dating back to 2003. Most of what you see was added and then removed.  Anything in brackets has been removed.  I have used the "track changes" feature of multiple programs - and this is by far the most confusing. I think the parenthesis indicates added language and the brackets indicate material removed.  Try as I might, I cannot determine what the document looks like after this ruling, but I believe that it removes all of the language that established special rules for malpractice cases, but leave intact the language requiring certificates of merit. 

    You may understand better if you read the ADOPTION REPORT referenced above.  It is the official explanation from the Supreme Court.  It explains what the case was about, what information they reviewed, what action they took, and why they took that action. 

    Understanding this document will enable you, and others, to discuss this ruling, and to intelligently respond.

  2. Jonathan A. Briskin | Aug 28, 2022

    I reviewed the actual Rule (via PMS link) and I don't see a significant change from the prior rule on venue for a medical professional liability action -- it still appears that venue is limited to the county where the cause of action arose.  Could you please identify the text that makes the enormous step backwards.  Before I react, I would like to know exactly what you are referring to.

     Thank you.

  3. Steven Siepser | Aug 26, 2022
    This is truly an unbelievable step backwards.  I haven't practiced in Philadelphia County for the last 20 years.  When I recently inquired about returning to Philadelphia County to teach residents my medical liability insurance premium would double.  Now it will certainly rise with the passage of this terrible supreme court action.  I am in a high risk surgical practice, refractive surgery, and the only lawsuit I lost in my career was in Philadephia Count by a professional litigant with no injury whatsoever, and a T. V. style plaintiff's attorney.  The juries in Philadelphia are unique in the state and maybe the country, the medical liability awards have helped to fund one of our law schools!   Ask any honest attorney what he thinks of the Philadelphia County Courts:  they are not just and certainly not anything near fair forum.
  4. Stanley Askin | Aug 26, 2022
    When a Society's leadership sleeps with dogs, it seems that we all wake up with fleas.

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