The state of Kentucky has passed a law that will make filing medical malpractice lawsuits in the area more difficult. Under the new law, all potential malpractice suits must go before a medical review panel before the case can be pursued in court.
The new law covers a huge swathe of healthcare professionals, from physicians and dentists to physical therapists and chiropractors, according to a report by JD Supra. The law aims to quash frivolous or unfair claims against healthcare professionals before they start. The hope is that the resulting reduction in litigation costs will help keep down malpractice insurance premiums, which in turn will hold down healthcare costs.
Under the new law, those wishing to file a medical malpractice suit must first file an administrative complaint with Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, JD Supra reported. That complaint will then be reviewed by a panel consisting of an attorney chairperson and three healthcare providers. The attorney chooses the panel by creating a list of six healthcare providers licensed in Kentucky who work in the same field as the potential defendant. Both the potential plaintiff and the potential defendant choose a provider from the list, and the two chosen choose the third.
Once the panel has been chosen, the plaintiff has 60 days to submit supporting evidence. After that, the defendant has 45 days to submit evidence refuting the claim, JD Supra reported. The panel can then rule in one of three ways: that the defendant failed to act according to the applicable standard of care in the case, and that failure was a “substantial cause” of the plaintiff’s injury; that the defendant failed to act according to the standard of care, but that it wasn’t a substantial cause of the plaintiff’s injury; or that the defendant acted according to the standard of care.
Regardless of the panel’s decision, the plaintiff can choose to pursue a malpractice claim, JD Supra reported. However, the panel’s decision can be admitted as expert evidence in a civil trial.