insurance is often a contentious issue in the medical community. Doctors sometimes complain that the costs for such insurance are prohibitive. Still, medical malpractice insurance serves an extremely vital role for patients and their families. Without the laws surrounding medical malpractice, patients are vulnerable to the high medical expenses that follow a doctor error or similar episode of negligence.
Recently, in Pennsylvania, Governor Corbett highlighted some of the changes in state law that have affected the area of medical malpractice. According to the Governor's administration, in 2015, the amount that a doctor must pay into the MCARE fund is expected to drop significantly. MCARE is a state treasury fund used to pay liability claims. A few years ago, there was a sizable surplus in the fund, and the state's decision to use $100 million to help the state budget sparked controversy.
According to a professor of law at Widener University, the projected cheaper costs of malpractice insurance are likely due to the state's Fair Share Act. Under this 2011 provision, healthcare professionals whose negligence caused injury are only responsible for paying for their portion of fault in an incident. Late last year, an "apology law" passed, letting physicians utter the words "I'm sorry" without the phrase being used as evidence against them in the courtroom.
As these legislative changes demonstrate, the malpractice environment in Pennsylvania changes over time. Residents who believe they may be a victim of medical professional negligence are often ill-equipped to take on the system without an experienced attorney's help. Malpractice can range from a seemingly simple omission, such as failure to monitor a patient, to a drastic episode of negligence such as a fatal medical error. In either case, doctors and hospitals have significant financial and legal resources for denying claims. As a result, victims are often ill-equipped to fight cases without an experienced advocate on their side.
Source: NBC Philadelphia, "
Medical malpractice insurance costs ease in Pennsylvania
," Taunya English, Nov. 4, 2014