THE PENNSYLVANIA DEFENSE INSTITUTE AND THE PHILADELPHIA ASSOCIATION OF DEFENSE COUNSEL URGE CAUTION AND RECOMMEND NO CHANGE TO EXISTING MEDICAL MALPRACTICE VENUE RULE
After reviewing the Study of the Impact of Venue for Medical Professional Liability Actions, prepared by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC), the Pennsylvania Defense Institute (PDI) and The Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel (PADC) caution against change to the existing medical malpractice venue rule. The LBFC report did not support the perceived reasons for the proposed change and acknowledged that alterations could destabilize an insurance environment made steady, in part, by reforms enacted in 2002.
The LBFC report highlighted that despite the reforms from 2002, Pennsylvania is second only to New York in annual medical malpractice payments nationally. Additionally, despite nearly 40% less cases since 2002, total annual Pennsylvania medical malpractice payouts exceeded theannual payouts made on average prior to the amendments. In other words, with 40% less cases, the total medical malpractice payouts exceed what was paid on average before the amendments.
Due to the complexity of the issues and limitations on available data, the LBFC concluded that “the effects of the proposed rule change on the number of medical malpractice filings and/or the value of medical malpractice payments could not be determined.” Simply put, the LBFC did not find data that supports the argument that the current medical malpractice system is broken, warranting change. Moreover, the LBFC acknowledged that the insurance market has been stable, with more insurance options and less involvement by Pennsylvania Professional Liability Underwriting Association (JUA). These were results sought by the 2002 amendments.
Both PDI and PADC echo the positions of the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Health Care Association against amendment to the venue rule. That is, a return to past practices could jeopardize the stability Pennsylvanians have enjoyed over the past decade. Despite assertions that Pennsylvania is not a favorable venue for injured patients, only New York healthcare providers pay more for medical malpractice claims annually. Simply stated, changes to the venue rule are not worth the risk of another medical liability crisis.