Access to Critical Health Care Services Threatened by Venue Rule Change

Vital for Supreme Court to establish fair, transparent review process

The 2022 Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversal of the state’s medical liability venue rule is leading to a health care crisis in the Commonwealth. As PCCJR has previously noted, the rule change allows for venue shopping in the state – with a notable increase in the number of cases filed in Philadelphia and other high-verdict jurisdictions as plaintiffs’ attorneys seek jackpot, nuclear verdicts. In fact, in 2023, 544 medical malpractices cases were filed in Philadelphia – nearly double (275) the cases filed in 2022.

In a joint opinion column recently published on the PennLive website, PCCJR Executive Director Curt Schroder, The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania President and CEO Nicole Stallings, and Pennsylvania Medical Society CEO Martin Raniowski outline the negative outcomes that will result if the current venue rule remains.

“Massive verdicts can wipe out specialty practices, will cause liability premiums to increase, and take resources away from providing care. Should this trend continue, physicians and hospitals will no longer be able to offer certain specialty care because of the high risk and, in the midst of a workforce crisis, it will become even more challenging to attract and keep physicians in the commonwealth.” Among the specialty practices at risk is obstetrics and critical access to pre- and post-natal birthing care.

The authors note that there is an opportunity to correct the venue rule change. The state Supreme Court’s Civil Procedural Rules Committee is required to review the impact of forum shopping on the two year anniversary of the rule change. However, in order to make an informed decision, it is vital that the Committee establish a fair and transparent process and allow all impacted parties to provide data and information on the effect the rule change has had.

You can read the entire column here. 

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