Barley Snyder partner Katherine Kravitz testified Tuesday against the proposed repeal of a Pennsylvania rule of court requiring medical malpractice cases to be filed in the county where the alleged negligence occurred.
Kravitz was selected by the Pennsylvania Bar Association to represent the defense side of this issue on the first day of the state’s Legislative Budget and Finance Committee hearing concerning this potentially volatile venue rule change.
The state implemented the venue rule in 2002, as part of efforts to solve a statewide medical industry crisis that saw skyrocketing malpractice premiums for doctors in Pennsylvania. The increases could be traced in part due to the glut of cases filed in Philadelphia County and the unprecedented frequency and size of plaintiff verdicts there. Kravitz said repealing the venue requirement would once again allow plaintiff attorneys to “shop” for venues that historically favor plaintiffs, even when all of the care at issue occurred elsewhere.
Other testimony at the hearing described the significant changes to the health care environment since the crisis of the early 2000s, including the large number of hospital affiliations and integration efforts. In her testimony, Kravitz explained that integration with health systems based in larger cities could be either a survival mechanism or a way for hospitals to provide their communities with advanced treatments and technologies previously not available locally. She testified that subjecting hospitals to the risk of being sued in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh could be a barrier to such affiliations, ultimately depriving patients and the community at large of the best modern medicine has to offer.
“It defies logic to do away with a tried and true prophylactic measure when the problems it was designed to address are still there,” Kravitz said during testimony.
Kathy Kravitz became the chair of Barley Snyder’s Health Law group in 2018. She also is a member of the American Health Lawyers Association and the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Health Law Committee.
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