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Pennsylvania Emergency Room & Hospital Medical Malpractice Law Update: The Danger of HB 2299

Phil Blackman-Pennsylvania New Jersey Personal Injury LawyerPublished on behalf of Philip Blackman, an experienced personal injury lawyer who has devoted his entire career to helping individuals and families who have been injured due to medical malpractice, car accidents, fall accidents and more. FREE Consultations: 215.925.4451

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is currently considering HB 2299, a bill which would make it harder for medical negligence victims in Pennsylvania to sue responsible parties.

This bill was introduced by Rep Cutler (R. Lancaster County, 100th District) last month, after lobbying efforts of Milliron Associates. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives will conduct a hearing on the bill this summer.

The problem with this bill is that it would change the negligence standard applied in cases of emergency room hospital negligence. If passed, emergency room personnel would only be liable in situations where there was gross negligence. It would also change the burden of proof from preponderance of the evidence to clear and convincing. In other words, the plaintiff/victim would have to prove gross negligence with clear and convincing evidence, which is a much higher burden than the current burden of proof-preponderance of the evidence.

The danger of this bill, if passed, is that it marginalizes a population that already faces socioeconomic hardships. Minorities and the poor seek emergency room care as the first and oftentimes only source of medical treatment. This is generally because they cannot afford health insurance. In addition, minorities often receive lower quality care and higher wait times in emergency rooms. Passage of this bill would essentially compound these issues.

According to Milliron Associates’ May 25, 2012 “Legislative Update:”

“Milliron Associates, on the behalf of Pennsylvania Chapter, American College of Emergency Physicians (PEP), lobbied to have H.B. 2299 introduced. H.B. 2299 changes the standard of proof for emergency physicians and personnel from “Preponderance of the Evidence” to “clear and convincing” evidence (i.e. a higher proof making it more difficult for an award in a lawsuit). H.B. 2299 was introduced on May 9th and the House will hold a hearing on this topic over the summer months. “

This statement fails to mention that the crux of the bill would change the level of negligence which must be shown in emergency room malpractice cases in Pennsylvania. Again, if passed, the bill would change the standard which applies to emergency room medical negligence cases in Pennsylvania from ordinary negligence to gross negligence. Doing so is a great danger to the thousands of Pennsylvania residents who receive medical treatment at emergency rooms.

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Published: June 26, 2012

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