Medical malpractice has been a hotly contested area for a long time. Close to twenty years ago, one state made a shift in the way it handled medical malpractice cases. At the time, the healthcare industry issued a stern warning to the state of Pennsylvania. They claimed that doctors were fleeing the state in droves in response to the skyrocketing costs associated with medical malpractice insurance. The more doctors are sued, and the more money plaintiffs are awarded, the higher the cost of medical malpractice insurance. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with this assessment and decided a change was in order.
Now, patients would only be allowed to file a lawsuit in the county where the injury took place. In prior cases, the plaintiff could file a lawsuit in any county in which the doctor conducted business. This allowed the plaintiff to choose the county in which to file the lawsuit, looking for a venue that might be seen as more sympathetic. According to bradshawlawnv.com, “Medical malpractice or medical negligence happens when a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider fails to provide the appropriate medical care, and a patient is injured or dies as a result.”
Years after this change took place, a new report is shedding important light on this controversial move. An independent study was commissioned showing that it does not appear that the number of doctors practicing in the state of Pennsylvania is tied to the cost of malpractice insurance. This report has been anticipated by the state’s legislative body for some time. For a government that has been trying to take politics out of the debate, this report may only prove to intensify it. While the report does shed some light on the state’s controversial 2003 decision, there are still a lot of questions that are left unanswered. Many of the questions that the report intended to address are still left open-ended. This means that the government is, once again, caught in a fierce debate. On one side, the state’s healthcare industry wants to see the law left intact. On the other side, trial lawyers want to see the law removed completely.
While the Supreme Court still needs to weigh in with its take, both sides are claiming that the report supports their point of view. While, undoubtedly, parts of the report support both sides, it is important to weigh the importance of every facet of the report individually. Then, both sides need to come to a consensus on what should be done regarding medical malpractice in the state of Pennsylvania. How this state handles this information may set an example for the rest of the country.