Pennsylvania Supreme Court delays malpractice rule change

    (Patrick Feller/Flickr)

    In a letter to House Republican leadership, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Saylor said Thursday the court was delaying a change in state rules over where medical malpractice lawsuits can be filed.

    The proposed change would allow plaintiffs to file suit in any of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. For example, if a malpractice allegation occurred in Lancaster, the victim could file a lawsuit in Philadelphia. The rule was adopted in 2003 as a compromise between the General Assembly and the state’s highest court in response to rising insurance costs.

    Republicans said the change would discourage doctors from practicing in Pennsylvania, especially in rural counties.

    “Today, doctors can operate confidently and fairly, serving the communities that rely on them, and victims of medical malpractice can still file suit in the county where the alleged wrongdoing occurred,” House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler said in a statement. “I want to applaud the work done by our caucus, the House Republican Policy Committee, and our Senate colleagues to draw attention to this important issue and assure all Pennsylvanians we remain committed to saving our health care.”

    The court is delaying the change until the General Assembly finishes a report on the impact of the rule change. A Senate resolution, SR 20, passed last week by a 31-18 vote to study the impact of the rule change on medical care.

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