HAP Statement: Proposed Change to Medical Liability Procedure Threatens Access to Care
January 14, 2019
Andy Carter, President and CEO of The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), released the following statement in response to the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules Committee proposal to remove venue limits for medical liability cases:
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules Committee’s recent proposal to reverse venue shopping rules will compromise patient access to care, drive physicians and nurses away from Pennsylvania, and chip away at the foundation that we have laid to improve the medical liability climate in the state.
“One of the leading causes of the medical liability crisis of the early 2000s was the practice of venue shopping. During that time, trial attorneys looked for every opportunity to pull cases into Philadelphia and Allegheny counties, where jury awards were consistently higher.
“As a remedy to the crisis, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and legislature agreed that medical liability claims should be decided in the communities in which the patients and providers live, not where the trial attorneys think they can secure the highest payouts
“History has shown that venue shopping forced medical professionals out of the state and deterred others from coming here to practice, robbing Pennsylvanians of quality care. The rules committee of the Supreme Court has not shown its work to indicate why such a change is necessary after 17 years, during which Pennsylvania’s medical liability environment has steadily improved.
“Reversing venue shopping rules runs counter to all of our current efforts to ensure that every Pennsylvanian has access to the right care in the right place at the right time. We ask the committee to withdraw this unproven proposal.”
During the late 1990s, HAP led a broad coalition of health care leadership groups that developed solutions to the medical liability crisis. HAP, the hospital community, and several health care organizations are coalescing around this issue again this year to submit comment letters to the state Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules Committee. Comment letters are due February 22.