PA’s Lawsuit Reforms Are Working; Let’s Not Roll Back Progress

Ten years ago, Pennsylvania’s legislature and Supreme Court took responsible actions to reform the commonwealth’s then out-of-control system for trying claims of medical negligence.

Those reasonable reforms included a requirement that lawyers have a case reviewed by a qualified physician before bringing suit and that physicians must be sued in the county where the asserted medical negligence took place. These reforms have worked well to reduce frivolous claims and limit forum-shopping.

That’s why Shanin Spector’s op-ed, Victims of medical negligence pay for reforms, suggesting that we roll back this substantial progress and reinstate broken rules, is disappointing to the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) and to all Pennsylvania physicians who have been advocating for these reforms—as well as others—for more than a decade.

“Medical negligence cases should be tried under fair rules,” said Bruce MacLeod, MD, president of PAMED, in his response to Spector’s op-ed, which appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Oct. 5. “Through these rules changes, legitimate cases do move forward more quickly and efficiently. That’s fair. What isn’t fair is an out-of-control system that allows meritless claims to drive up costs for all of us and slows down the legal system for legitimate claims.”

Physicians often ask us, “What has PAMED done to address this problem in the past and what are you doing now to achieve meaningful tort reform in Pennsylvania? While there is certainly more to be done to enact meaningful tort reform here in Pennsylvania, PAMED has achieved many important remedies addressing major physician concerns, such as the 2013 law preventing physician apologies from being used against them in a medical liability lawsuit. We continue to advocate on physicians’ behalf to bring more tort reforms to Pennsylvania.

These reforms are working to improve the medical liability climate in Pennsylvania. In fact, recent data show a 45 percent decline in medical liability filings in Pennsylvania between 2012 and 2000-2002.

Find out more in our recently published Medical Liability Reform in Pennsylvania: 2014-2015 Update.