Harrisburg – The Senate Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Bob Mensch (R-24), released a report on Monday, February 3, 2020. Senate Resolution 2019-20 (SR 20) directs the LBFC to conduct a study of the impact of venue for medical professional liability actions on access to medical care and maintenance of health care systems in Pennsylvania. The study covered the period 1996 through 2018.
In 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Civil Procedural Rules Committee proposed amending Rule of Civil Procedure 1006 to eliminate the special rule for venue (the geographic location where a legal case can be heard) in medical professional liability actions. The proposed rule change would expand venue options for medical professional liability cases to the same as for other civil actions.
The available data that was found indicated no statewide trends between medical malpractice insurance rates and the number of active medical staff with clinical privileges. Without widespread trends, they were unable to measure the specific effects of tort reform on physician availability, including the specific effect of the venue change alone.
The data also did not lead to a conclusion on the effect of venue on the availability of hospitals/ hospital services statewide. Due to the complexity and limited data available on medical malpractice case duration from the time of filing to award or settlement, they were unable to determine if medical malpractice cases were promptly concluded or the effect of venue on case duration.
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