STATEMENT: Public Hearing On Medical Liability Venue Rule

Last Updated: Jan 30, 2019

FOR RELEASE Jan. 30, 2019
 
HARRISBURG, Pa. – The following is a statement from Danae Powers, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society.
 
Danae-Powers-MD“The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) applauds today’s announcement about a public hearing to examine the proposed venue rule change for medical liability claims in Pennsylvania.
 
We appreciate the efforts of the House Republican leadership and any lawmaker who shares our goal of ensuring access to quality health care for all Pennsylvanians.
 
We believe the current venue rule, which stipulates that medical liability claims should be filed in the county where the alleged medical error occurred, helped stabilize the medical liability climate in 2002.
 
If you want the best care, it’s important for Pennsylvania to recruit and retain the best physicians. Changing this rule could make it difficult to accomplish that.
 
Before the current rule was adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, a high number of claims and subsequent claim payments led to skyrocketing medical liability premiums for physicians, which in turn led to a 10 percent decrease in the physician workforce between 1997-2000. This caused a domino effect that eventually made its way to patients, who faced long waits for specialists such as OB-GYNs and orthopaedic surgeons.
 
Reversing this rule would encourage ‘venue shopping,’ and drive good physicians to other states. 
 
Lifting this rule could have even more disastrous effects this time because of Pennsylvania’s continued health system consolidation. Hospitals and health systems cover more counties now than in the past and, in some cases, span the majority of the state. As a result, there would be more opportunities for attorneys to move claims against physicians to venues with no relation to the cause of action, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, for no other reason than they pay higher awards.
 
Injured patients who prove medical negligence should be compensated. However, PAMED believes that physicians have the right to a fair process and hearing medical liability cases in the location where the alleged medical error occurred helps ensure the process is balanced for both parties.
 
PAMED and a coalition of health care providers, hospitals, long-term care facilities, insurers, and businesses oppose this change. We look forward to participating in the public hearing this February.”
 
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Media Contact
Jeff Wirick
Pennsylvania Medical Society
717-909-2651
jwirick@pamedsoc.org
 
About Pennsylvania Medical Society
The Pennsylvania Medical Society helps its 21,000 physician and medical student members return to the art of medicine through advocacy and education. To learn more, visit www.pamedsoc.org or follow us on Twitter at @PAMEDSociety.

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