a defendant." Sheriff v. Eisele, 381 Pa. 33, 35, 112 A.2d 165, 166 (1955). See Pushnik v. Winky's Drive-In Restaurants Inc., 242 Pa.Super. 323, 336-37, 363 A.2d 1291, 1298 (1976). Section 1301.309 expressly grants the arbitration panel original exclusive jurisdiction over a malpractice suit against a physician in which the physician joins a nonhealth care provider as an additional defendant. See Morrison v. Therm-O-Rite Products Corp., 468 F. Supp. 1295 (M.D.Pa.1979) (dismissing products liability case against manufacturer of medical equipment after health care provider joined manufacturer in action before arbitration panel).
In the final scenario, the patient would sue the equipment manufacturer alone. The manufacturer, in turn, would join the doctor under Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 2252(a), averring that the doctor had misused the equipment.
In all four hypotheticals, the trier of fact would hear evidence on the same two questions: (1) Was the physician negligent? and (2) Was the equipment defective? Both the physician and the equipment were integral parts of the medical services that were provided. See, e.g., Morrison v. Therm-O-Rite Products Corp., 468 F. Supp. 1295, 1297 (M.D.Pa.1979). Expertise in medicine certainly would assist a trier of fact in exploring the alleged failure of these two components. In the first three scenarios, the arbitration panel, with its two legal and two medical specialists, undeniably would have original exclusive jurisdiction. By filing the present case, however, Mr. Firich impliedly contends that the arbitration panel would not have original exclusive jurisdiction over the final scenario even though the parties would address the same issues as in the first three hypotheticals.
If the plaintiff is correct, a substantial number of injured patients could circumvent the legislative scheme. Those patients who wanted an arbitration panel to hear their cases could sue the doctor and the manufacturer together or could sue the doctor alone and rely on him to join the manufacturer as an additional defendant. Under either approach, the plaintiff could recover against one or both of the defendants so long as he included in his complaint allegations implicating both defendants. Cf. Staub v. Southwest Butler County School District, 263 Pa.Super. 413, 398 A.2d 204, 209 (1979) (concurring opinion, Hoffman, J.) ("The plaintiff can simply serve a nonhealth care defendant with a complaint replete with allegations of medical malpractice, and may be assured that the named defendant . . . will join the health care provider as an additional defendant."). On the other hand, those injured patients who wanted a court to decide their cases initially could sue the manufacturer alone and allow it to join the health care provider. The assumption that the manufacturer will join the doctor in an effort to avoid or minimize its liability is hardly unwarranted. See Owen Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 374 n. 17, 98 S. Ct. 2396, 57 L. Ed. 2d 274 (1978). Thus, if the plaintiff's position is correct, an injured patient could circumvent the legislature's intent that a panel containing experts hear medical malpractice cases and that the panel have original exclusive jurisdiction over such cases.
Mr. Firich has filed his action in federal, rather than state, court. Federal courts hearing diversity cases operate under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure rather than state rules of procedure. See Hanna v. Plumer, 380 U.S. 460, 85 S. Ct. 1136, 14 L. Ed. 2d 8 (1965); Sibbach v. Wilson & Co., 312 U.S. 1, 61 S. Ct. 422, 85 L. Ed. 479 (1941). Although we have discussed our hypotheticals against a background of state procedural rules, the same inconsistency would occur in federal court. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 14(a) authorizes a defendant to implead an additional defendant "who is or may be liable to him for all or part of the plaintiff's claim against him." Rule 14(a) also provides that "(t)he plaintiff may assert any claim against the third-party defendant arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the plaintiff's claim against the third-party plaintiff." Thus, in federal court, the third-party defendant does not automatically become subject to the plaintiff's complaint, but Rule 14(a) permits the plaintiff to assert a claim against the impleaded party. Although the instant plaintiff has not yet asserted claims against Dr. Doebler and Sewickley Valley Hospital, we have no reason to believe that he will not take advantage of the opportunity that Rule 14 provides.
Therefore, under the plaintiff's theory, in both federal and state court, the pleading strategy will determine whether the arbitration panel has original exclusive jurisdiction.
Not only does the plaintiff's position undermine the legislature's grant of original exclusive jurisdiction to the arbitration system over malpractice claims against health care providers, but it also, for all intents and purposes, deletes the second sentence of section 1301.309 from the statute. This sentence provides that "(t)he arbitration panel shall also have original exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide any claim asserted against a nonhealth care provider who is made a party defendant with a health care provider." The inclusion of this sentence reflects a legislative intent to have a panel, staffed with specialists, decide all issues of fact arising from injuries sustained during the delivery of medical services by health care providers. Under the plaintiff's theory, however, the arbitration panel may never hear any part of the malpractice action if a drug or medical equipment manufacturer is a possible defendant. A substantial likelihood exists that all such cases would be diverted from the arbitration system because plaintiffs naturally would prefer sympathetic juries to hear their cases. Thus, plaintiffs rarely would give the panels an opportunity to invoke the second sentence of section 1301.309.
In Commonwealth v. Driscoll, 485 Pa. 99, 401 A.2d 312 (1979), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court acknowledged that
(o)ur purpose . . . in any case requiring interpretation of a statute, is to give effect to the intent of the legislature. To determine that intent we look both to the statutory scheme, and to the specific language of the Act. We must assume that the legislature intends every word of the statute to have effect.