Pennsylvania Bill Would Raise Evidence Standard in Cases Against ED Physicians

Pennsylvania House Bill 804 would raise the standard of evidence from simple negligence to gross negligence in medical liability actions involving emergency care.

Gross negligence refers to a conscious and voluntary disregard of the need to use reasonable care, while simple or ordinary negligence refers to an individual's careless mistake. Under the new bill, evidence would have to be presented showing an emergency department physician showed deliberate indifference in caring for a patient for there to be liability imposed. 

In a statement in support of the bill, Pennsylvania Medical Society President Bruce MacLeod said having the same negligence evidence standard for physicians in the ED and physicians in non-emergency settings is not fair because ED "providers must make immediate lifesaving decisions without the benefit of a prior relationship to the patient and often without any knowledge of the patient's medical history."

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