Medical Liability

Medical liability insurance provides coverage to physicians and other medical professionals for liability that arises from disputed services that result in a patient’s injury or death. Pennsylvania requires this insurance coverage, which covers expenses associated with defending and settling medical liability suits.

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.

COVID-19 Pandemic—Liability Protections

HAP remains committed to improve the state’s overall legal liability system to help attract and retain health care providers and ensure patients have access to quality health care. HAP strongly supports state and federal policies that protect health care workers and health systems from predatory litigation related to the COVID-19 pandemic and has joined dozens of organizations calling for limited and targeted protections for health care professionals and facilities against predatory litigation related to the pandemic.

Federally, HAP joined 78 organizations urging the federal delegation to support temporary and targeted COVID-19 liability protections by co-signing joint letters sent during August 2020 and again during December.

At the state level, HAP joined stakeholders and the PCCJR to push for limited liability protections for health care providers, including facilities, who comply with government guidelines during the Governor’s emergency declaration. Legislation was sent to the Governor’s desk but was vetoed. In addition, HAP continues to call on the Governor to use his executive powers to provide for these protections through an executive order. 

Venue Reform

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. The Supreme Court delayed its decision until completion of a study about venue, as requested through Senate Resolution 20 (Senator Baker, R-Luzerne). The report was published February 2020.

HAP continues to oppose the change by working with lawmakers and other stakeholders to delay the change and protect patient access to care by creating a legal environment where providers wish to practice medicine and care for patients.

HAP's Warren Kampf testifying at venue hearing

Informed Consent

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 legislation, which modernizes 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 Contacts

For more information, contact Warren Kampf, senior vice president, advocacy and external affairs; Laura Stevens Kent, senior vice president, strategic integration; or Stephanie Watkins, vice president, state legislative advocacy. For media inquiries, contact Rachel Moore, director, media relations.

HAP News

January 25, 2021

HAP Achievement Awards: Phoenixville Hospital

HAP’s Achievement Awards showcase exceptional programs throughout Pennsylvania’s hospital community. This week, HAP is proud to recognize Phoenixville Hospital for its Healthy Baby Program that ensures underserved women have access to excellent prenatal, delivery and post-partum care.

January 15, 2021

HAP Achievement Awards: Fox Chase Cancer Center

HAP’s Achievement Awards showcase exceptional programs throughout Pennsylvania’s hospital community. This week, HAP is proud to recognize Fox Chase Cancer Center for its efforts to improve quality of life and treatment for patients with head and neck cancer.

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