The Latest On Medical Malpractice Venue Rules

After a delay of a month, the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s Legislative Budget and Finance Committee finally released its findings in a report about the potential effects of the current proposal to revise Pennsylvania’s venue rules for medical malpractice cases.

The committee assumed the task of reviewing the possible effects of the controversial medical malpractice venue rule changes in February, following the state Supreme Court’s agreement to postpone its consideration of whether to implement the changes until after the completion of an study examining the impact of the proposed changes.

The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, consisting of members of both Pennsylvania legislative bodies, released the 200-page report in early February after working on it report for almost an entire year. The report covers multiple topics, including a look at the effects of older, past venue changes on professional liability insurance rates and medical malpractice filings.

The venue rules changes attempt to allow medical malpractice plaintiffs to sue in any venue where the defendant health care provider regularly does business, which would overturn the venue rules promulgated in 2002 pursuant to the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Errors (MCARE) Act, which limited medical malpractice plaintiffs to suing in the venue where their injuries occurred.

However, the report did not offer any recommendations as to whether the current venue rules should be changed. Further, the report stated that it failed to reach conclusions about what has affected past rates and filings partially because it possessed incomplete data and was subject to considering variables outside the scope of the report’s review.

Nonetheless, the report outlined various details that would be favorable to both sides of the debate.

Included among the points made in the report:

  • “The data indicates there were no measurable effects of venue on the availability of physicians across the commonwealth from the 2003 tort reforms; however, the health care landscape Pennsylvania has significantly changed for physicians since that time.”
  • “In Pennsylvania from the period 2000 to 2002 compared to the period 2015 to 2017 there was a 44.9% decrease in medical malpractice filings. The shift in claims from Philadelphia and Allegheny counties is prominent and at least one surrounding county has also shown a dramatic increase in claims.”
  • “The effects of the proposed rule change on the number of medical malpractice filings and/or the value of medical malpractice payments in Pennsylvania could not be determined with any certainty.”

Next, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Civil Procedural Rules Committee, which proposed the changes in late 2018, resumes consideration of the changes.

Powell Law’s attorneys have built a working relationship with hundreds of expert witnesses over the life of the firm. A viable medical malpractice case requires a team of experts, legal and medical, to succeed. Our team has the necessary expertise and experience to help victims of professional negligence recover damages. At Powell Law, it is our goal to protect and assert our clients’ rights effectively. Powell Law has an established 115-year-old reputation throughout northeastern Pennsylvania. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE, and you don’t pay unless we win!

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