According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, national estimates of medical liability system costs—including settlements, legal and administrative costs, and defensive medicine—range from $55.6 billion annually to $200 billion.
In response to longstanding concerns about Pennsylvania’s legal climate, HAP has joined with the state’s leading business and medical voices to form the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform (PCCJR). The PCCJR mission is to improve the state’s overall legal liability system to help attract and retain health care providers and ensure access to health services.
During late 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Civil Procedural Rules Committee proposed reversing a 17-year-old rule that prevents venue shopping in medical liability cases. Venue shopping allows personal injury lawyers to move medical liability claims from the counties where the claims are filed, to counties that have a history of awarding higher payouts to plaintiffs. HAP opposes the proposed change. The Supreme Court has delayed its decision until completion of a study about venue, as requested through Senate Resolution 20 (Senator Baker, R-Luzerne). The report is due January 2020.
During 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that health care facilities and physicians could not use qualified practitioners in the informed consent process. Qualified staff can no longer assist with providing information, answering questions, or following up with patients prior to surgical procedures. The court ruling is based upon a strict, interpretation of the state’s 2002 Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCare) Act. HAP supports House Bill 1580 and Senate Bill 761, which modernize the MCARE Act to align with team-based health care.
Statute of Repose
During November 2019, in a 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
held that a seven-year statute of repose for medical malpractice, was
unconstitutional. The statute was passed as part of a 2002 law designed to improve
access to health care. The majority found the statute of repose violated the
right of access to the courts and had no substantial relationship to the
legislative goal of controlling malpractice insurance costs and premiums. HAP
is monitoring the impact of the ruling.