Pennsylvania court decision may take away physician's ability to choose malpractice lawyers

In 2022, a superior court in Pennsylvania ruled that a law firm representing an anesthesiologist in a medical liability case could not also represent an orthopedic surgeon who was involved, according to a Jan. 4 report from the American Medical Association.

The Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies is urging the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to hear a case regarding the decision, saying that physicians need to have the ability to choose their own legal representation in every case. 

"It upends physicians’ ability to have the lawyer of their choice at their side when their livelihood and professional reputations are at stake," the association wrote in a 2022 amicus brief. 

The association also outlined five reasons why it believes that courts should not be involved in a physician's choice of attorney. 

First, medical litigation can be complicated, and it often requires specialized attorneys with certain training. Second, states have laws that only apply to malpractice litigation. 

Third, physicians facing lawsuits have a lot at stake beyond the stress of litigation. Fourth, physicians provide essential life or death care to patients. Lastly, the road to becoming a physician is long and expensive, and "malpractice claims threaten a physician’s investment 'and expose physicians to ignominy and loss of livelihood,'" according to the brief.  

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