PaACEP Urges Special Session for Pa. Med-Mal Liability Reform

October 4, 2002

The Pennsylvania Chapter, the American College of Emergency Physicians (PaACEP) is warning that emergency health services at the Community Medical Center in Scranton could be drastically cut back unless lawmakers address the medical malpractice liability insurance crisis there.

“The potential elimination of the Community Medical Center’s emergency services is a warning of what is to come if the General Assembly doesn’t take swift action to fix the rising insurance premium problem. Unless this crisis is resolved, a fundamental part of Pennsylvania’s health care safety net—the hospital emergency department—will unravel,” said Dr. Bruce MacLeod, PaACEP president. “We urge the General Assembly to convene a special session to solve this problem before patient care is jeopardized.”

“On a yearly basis one in three Pennsylvanians seek medical care in the Commonwealth’s emergency departments. If emergency departments close because emergency physicians cannot afford their premiums or they lose physicians to another state with lower premiums, it would be catastrophic for emergency department patients who need life-saving care,” said Dr. MacLeod.

“Emergency physicians who can’t afford insurance rate increases or can’t find physician liability coverage—can’t practice,” said Dr. MacLeod. He added, “The recent enactment of Pennsylvania’s Medical Liability Reform legislation provides dangerously insufficient immediate relief and stops short of fixing the root of the problem: lawsuit abuse.”

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