Venue Rule Change

COVID-19 Made Health Care Providers Vulnerable,
A Change in Venue Rule Will Make It Worse.

August 25, 2022

Pennsylvania Medical Society's Statement Regarding the Supreme Court's Action on Venue Shopping

“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 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 health care, and stabilize medical liability.

This, at a time physicians have been stretched to their breaking points due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have been called heroes for their unwavering dedication. This is no way to treat heroes.”

What is venue?

Venue is the location where a criminal or civil case may be filed. For cases in state court, venue means the county or counties in which a case may be filed. For federal court cases, the district or division where a case may be filed.


Current Pennsylvania law, via a procedural rule adopted by the Supreme Court in 2003, specifies that medical malpractice cases may only be filed in the county in which the alleged malpractice occurred.

In 2019, the state’s Civil Procedural Rules Committee published a proposed rule change that would reverse the existing venue rule (the county in which a medical malpractice case may be filed). This change will expand venue to additional counties beyond the county in which the alleged malpractice occurred.

A Senate resolution passed in February 2019 directed Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to study the impact of venue for medical professional liability actions. The LBFC’s study was released February 2020.

The LBFC looked at venue from the period of 1996 through 2018. The study did not reach a definitive conclusion on the impact of the 2003 venue rule. Report highlights include:

  • The cost of medical professional liability insurance in Pa. increased significantly from 1996 to its peak around 2007, before decreasing.

  • The LBFC acknowledged that a change in the venue rule, coupled with the regionalization of hospital services, would likely have a destabilizing effect on the insurance market, at least in the short term, as insurers will likely have a more difficult time predicting costs.

  • The number of medical malpractice filings has decreased by 44.9 percent between the period of 2000-2002 and 2015-2017.

  • Compensation for injuries from medical negligence by physicians decreased by 13.7 percent from 2003 to 2018.

  • LBFC was unable to reach a conclusion on the impact of venue on patient access to health care. It noted that access to care involves many different variables including health insurance coverage and geographic locations.

How does changing the venue rule affect Pennsylvania physicians?

By allowing venue in counties with little to no relation to the underlying cause of action, claimants could shop for verdict friendly venues in which to file their suits. As was the case before steps were taken in 2002 to address the medical malpractice crisis, the state will return to:

  • Higher medical professional liability insurance premiums
  • PA less attractive state for physicians to practice
  • Patient access to care issues


Clarion County
Medical Society
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