Remember those medical review panels that a Franklin Circuit Judge deemed unconstitutional in October of 2017? That case has moved on to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which means the law still stands at this time.
Under Kentucky law, persons desiring to file a medical malpractice claim must submit their claim first to a review panel before it is filed in a formal court proceeding. The job of the panel is to determine if the case has sufficient merit to go to court. However, the evidence suggests that the law, with only one year on the books, is causing excessive case delays.
Of course it is. We knew it would.
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The Medical Review Panel Act
Entitled the Medical Review Panel Act, and passed by Kentucky’s House and Senate in 2016, the law is leading to significant delays for individuals seeking to file medical malpractice claims in court.
The panel to which individuals must submit their medical malpractice claims consists of three voting health care professionals and one nonvoting lawyer. Doctors and other professionals are mandated to serve on the panel if requested (unless they are able to offer sufficient reasons otherwise) and are compensated $300 for their expertise and time. The panel is to review the evidence submitted and decide if the expected standard of care in the case was not provided and also led to the patient’s injury. The panel’s conclusions, although not binding, may be used in court.
Statistics of cases filed before review panels
Since the law was put into effect, the panel has received 531 claims. Among these, 58 claims have been examined, 18 are pending, and 13 have been adjudicated. Another 27 have been settled, withdrawn, or dismissed. This leaves 89 percent of claims yet to be addressed by the panel.
While many of those who originally supported the law continue to support the idea of a medical review panel, a number of professionals, including lawyers, have concluded the process to be ineffective. This includes lawyers who represent hospitals, doctors, and nursing homes.
Betsy Johnson, president of the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, an organization that represents nursing homes, stated, “I’m not going to deny that the numbers aren’t good and it is an imperfect law.”
The establishment of these medical review panels is expected to lengthen the time involved with resolving a medical malpractice case from an average of two years to as many as three or four years.
The idea of medical review panels was once prevalent in states across the nation, with almost 2/3 of all states implementing these panels. However, currently only 17 states operate these panels due to their lack of effectiveness. We believe it is time that Kentucky join that ever-growing list of states which have eliminated the laws. All it does it hurt medical malpractice victims twice.
At Crandall & Pera Law, we fight for victims of medical negligence. If you were harmed by a negligent doctor in Kentucky, we can help. To meet with an attorney during a free consultation, please call our law office at 877-686-8879, or complete our contact form.