Seeking to mitigate the looming medical liability crisis caused by the reintroduction of trial lawyer “venue shopping”, medical professional organizations and others looking to reform Pennsylvania’s civil justice system called upon the state’s General Assembly and Gov. Josh Shapiro Monday to work together.

“Just a few short years ago, practicing physicians gave little thought to the medical liability issue,” said PA Ortho board member Suzette Song, MD, of York County. “That crisis, which was a true crisis, was resolved 20 years ago. A Republican governor, Mark Schweiker; a Democratic governor, Ed Rendell; Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly; and even the state Supreme Court worked together through those two gubernatorial administrations to enact a series of Medical Liability Reforms that included Act 13 of 2002, The MCARE Act, and Act 44 of 2002, the Mcare Abatement Program.

“We call on the General Assembly and Governor Shapiro to act now before Pennsylvania’s health care delivery system is engulfed by skyrocketing medical liability insurance costs, which will lead to diminished patient care as it did 20 years ago,” added Song in a Medical Liability Reform press conference in the State Capitol Rotunda.

Following the Supreme Court’s action, data from the 1st Judicial District in Philadelphia reveals that 2023 medical liability lawsuits have doubled in Philadelphia County over the 2022 level under the new venue shopping rules. Additional data indicates that cases in the suburban counties have decreased by a similar margin.

Action is being sought on two legislative initiatives:

  • Certificate of Merit – Senate Bill 1182 was introduced by state Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, whose legislation will reform Pennsylvania’s Certificate of Merit practice to reduce delays in litigation, decrease potential litigation costs, and facilitate early resolution of claims without unnecessary litigation.
  • Interbranch Commission on Venue – Sen. Lisa Baker, R- Luzerne, has circulated among her colleagues a co-sponsorship memo for legislation to create an Interbranch Commission to study the impact of the new venue rules. This Interbranch Commission would be comprised of representatives from the legislature, the administration, and the judiciary. A similar commission was established in the early 2000s, leading to venue shopping’s elimination.

Former PA Ortho President Matthew Kelly, MD, of Camp Hill’s Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania said the Pennsylvania Orthopedic Society and other medical professional organizations believe that patients who feel they were injured from medical treatment should have the right to sue.

“We merely want that redress to be in the county of the alleged injury,” said Kelly.

The new venue rules became effective in January 2023.




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