Medical Liability Update

by Candy Barr

Who’s Looking Out for You?

Since the adoption of Pennsylvania’s MCARE (Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error) Act in 2002, the number of health care negligence lawsuits filed in Pennsylvania courts has steadily declined, although the cases that are being filed tend to be ones in which serious or catastrophic injuries are alleged.  Additionally, medical professionals who find themselves named as defendants in such lawsuits face more than just the possibility of a monetary judgment:  Federal guidelines require an adverse result (or even a settlement) must be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank, which provides information to professional liability insurance carriers reviewing applications for insurance as well as hospitals seeking information about physicians requesting privileges.  Thus, the outcome of these types of lawsuits may have a significant impact on a health care professional’s practice.

In Pennsylvania, a plaintiff asserting a medical malpractice claim must present expert testimony from a doctor who practices in the same field as the defendant and must prove that the defendant did not adhere to the “standard of care” expected of those practicing in the same area of medicine.  While a health care provider who has been sued is not required to present expert testimony, a strong defense often depends upon refuting the plaintiff’s expert, and the outcome of a medical negligence case frequently comes down to a “battle of the experts.”  The quality of a party’s experts is therefore critical.

At the Allentown Office of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, our Health Care Group specializes in defending doctors, physician assistants, nurses, medical practices, and hospitals.  Our team of Candy Barr Heimbach, Paul F. Laughlin, Michelle Wilson, and Wendy R.S. O’Connor has been representing medical professionals and institutions for over thirty years, has successfully tried hundreds of cases to verdict, and routinely handles matters in Lehigh, Northampton, and other courts in Eastern Pennsylvania.  Over the years, we have developed an expertise in formulating successful strategies, particularly in the selection of experts of national prominence who are leaders in their area of practice at the forefront of research and treatment.  Our attorneys, who have cultivated the specialized medical knowledge necessary to the successful defense of the medical negligence claim, don’t confine themselves to the courtroom; we frequently present seminars in the legal community as to recent changes in the law and also provide training to doctors, nurses and other health care providers as to how they can avoid lawsuits and better communicate with their patients.

While the number of medical negligence lawsuits may continue to decline in coming years, it has never been more important for the medical defendant to have a seasoned professional by his or her side at every step of the way.

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