Penn. Hospitals, Physicians Call for Medical Liability Reform

May 24, 2001

The Pennsylvania Medical Society and The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) released a joint statement outlining a set of principles and an action plan for reforming the medical professional liability system in Pennsylvania. This year, liability insurance premiums for physicians and hospitals are up by 30 to 100 percent, and Pennsylvania’s premiums are 40 to 70 percent higher than surrounding states. The two organizations say that reforms are critical to the survival of Pennsylvania’s health care system, and reforms are needed to preserve access to health care services and contain rising liability costs.

While initial steps should include addressing the Medical Liability Catastrophic Fund, both the state medical society and HAP agree that fundamental changes to the medical liability system are at the core of the current crisis.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society and HAP propose the following plan for relief:

— Tort Reform: Achieve meaningful changes to the medical legal system to improve efficiencies and contain costs. Explore use of private contracts between patients and health care providers that would provide for alternatives to lawsuits to resolve issues of medical negligence.

— CAT Fund Reform: Transfer the responsibility of the mandated coverage limits of professional liability insurance to the private sector.

— Patient Safety Initiatives: Promote improved risk management and quality of care.

— Financial Relief: Seek financial assistance from third party payers; reduce and stabilize CAT Fund assessments.

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