In a move that shocked health care practitioners and facilities throughout the state, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Civil Procedural Rules Committee published a notice on Dec. 22, 2018, that it would be considering a major change to the rule governing venue in medical practice lawsuits. The proposal sought to rescind the current venue rule, Pa. R.C.P. 1006(a)(1), which requires medical malpractice plaintiffs to bring suit in a county where the alleged cause of action arose. The current rule was enacted in the early 2000s, along with a series of other health care reforms promulgated by the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (MCARE) Act, which was formed in response to the medical liability crisis at that time. The brief reasoning the Civil Procedural Rules Committee offered for now rescinding the venue reform was that the “current rule provides special treatment of a particular class of defendants, which no longer appears warranted,” citing a significant reduction in medical professional liability actions over the past 15 years.
The Civil Procedural Rules Committee initially advised it would accept feedback from the public on its proposal until Feb. 22. The radical nature of the change, along with the brief, two-month feedback period, raised great concern among the health care and legal communities and businesses across the state.
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