Last Updated: Jun 27, 2019
Members of the health care, insurance, and legal communities testified before Pennsylvania’s Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) on the potential impact of a proposal to lift venue restrictions in medical liability cases. The two-day hearing was held at the Capitol in Harrisburg on June 25-26, 2019.
The LBFC is holding the hearings and analyzing the venue issue as directed by a Senate resolution sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker which called for further study of the issue.
What the LBFC Is Studying
The current venue rule in Pennsylvania, in effect since 2003, provides that a medical professional liability action may be brought against a health care provider for a medical professional liability claim only in the county in which the cause of action arose.
A proposal by the Pa. Supreme Court’s Civil Procedural Rules Committee would reverse the current venue rule, significantly expanding the potential venues for medical professional liability actions.
The LBFC is conducting a comprehensive study on the impact a venue rule reversal would have on the availability of medical care across the Commonwealth.
Highlights from the Venue Hearing
The Committee heard testimony from a variety of stakeholders, including the state's Patient Safety Authority, providers, attorneys from the plaintiff bar and from the defense bar, insurers, and the state's medical colleges.
“The result of the proposed venue rule change by the Civil Procedural Rules Committee will create a domino effect of negative implications for the professional liability insurance market, physicians, other health care providers, and most importantly, access to quality care for all Pennsylvanians,” said Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) President Danae Powers, MD, during her testimony at the hearing. Read her written testimony here.
Peter Hoffman, Esq. shared his experience as a defense attorney in Pennsylvania during the medical malpractice crisis in the early 2000s. He noted that insurance premiums had skyrocketed during that time.
Sam Marshall, president of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, testified that the implementation of the current venue rule helped to take some of the unpredictability out of the insurance market.
See below for more quotes from the hearing shared via Twitter by PAMED, the Hospital and HealthSystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), and the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform.