Civil Litigation Involving Health Care Workers Inappropriate During COVID-19 Pandemic
The following is from Lawrence John, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED):
“In these unprecedented times, PAMED calls on Chief Justice Thomas Saylor to temporarily suspend depositions of, and all required appearances for, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals as was recently done by the New Jersey Supreme Court.
We are not minimizing any plaintiff’s allegations against a practitioner, nor are we seeking dismissal of any claims. We are simply asking the court to recognize that lives are at stake and we need all available health care professionals focused on patient care.
Financial implications of law firms should not take precedence over this health crisis that we are all confronting. Practitioners are stressed, scared, and being asked to perform in unimaginable situations, all while worrying about their own health and safety.
At this time, practitioners should not be taking time away from caring for people to meet with lawyers, prepare for depositions, and be questioned about a case that is not at the forefront of their minds right now.
The more practitioners who can focus on helping patients during this pandemic, the better the commonwealth can weather this storm.”
The Latest on Venue
The Pa. Legislative Budget and Finance Committee report studying the impact of a Pa. Supreme Court Civil Procedural Rules Committee proposal to expand the potential venues for medical liability actions was released on Feb. 3, 2020.
A preliminary review of the report shows that it does not support efforts to change the current venue rule. PAMED will work with our partners to analyze and respond to the LBFC’s report.
Watch our venue rule webpage to learn about next steps, including any advocacy efforts that are needed. Stay up to date at www.pamedsoc.org/venuerule.
Scope of Practice Advocacy
PAMED continues to support physician-led, team-based care. We oppose SB 25 and HB 100, legislation that would allow CRNPs to practice independently in Pennsylvania, without the requirement that they maintain a collaborative agreement with a physician. Learn more about PAMED’s scope of practice advocacy: www.pamedsoc.org/dontloseyourdoc .
State Law on Opioid Treatment Agreements Now in Effect
Legislation to regulate the use of opioid patient treatment agreements by prescribers who treat chronic pain patients was signed into law on Nov. 27 and took immediate effect. PAMED’s Quick Consult fact sheet answers physician questions on the law: www.pamedsoc.org/treatmentagreement .
Prior Authorization Reform
Prior auth insurance tactics are delaying care and undermining decisions made between physicians and patients. PAMED supports House Bill 1194 and Senate Bill 920 which both aim to reform the process. Now that the current legislative session is underway, it is possible that prior authorization legislation could be on the move.
Get details on efforts to reform prior authorization at www.pamedsoc.org/priorauth
State Bill to Ban Non-Compete Agreements for Health Care Practitioners Is Expected Soon
A bill to prevent the use of non-compete agreements in health care practitioners’ employment contacts is expected to be introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives soon. Rep. Torren Ecker has announced that he plans to sponsor the legislation. Learn more at https://www.pamedsoc.org/laws-advocacy/topics/articles/non-compete-ecker-bill .
Bills on the Hill: As Budget Season Begins, 3 New Health Care Bills Are Signed into Law
Three health-related bills were signed by Gov. Wolf recently. Get more information here https://www.pamedsoc.org/laws-advocacy/topics/articles/bills-on-the-hill-February-18-2020
- Coverage for Stage IV Metastatic Cancer
- The Keystone Mothers’ Milk Bank Act
- Amendments to the PDMP Law