Medical Review Panels – Supreme Court to decide

Medical malpractice has been up in the air in Kentucky since the Medical Review Panel Act (KRS 216C) went into effect in June. This required that all allegations of medical malpractice be reviewed by a panel before being allowed to proceed to trial.

The act was declared unconstitutional, appealed, and fast-tracked to the Kentucky Supreme Court. We should know shortly how they decide and how medical malpractice can proceed.

The issue

Medical review Panels were intended as a major overhaul to the process for medical malpractice claims. Under the law, they were expected to be an independent arbitrator in any dispute based on claims. Under the law, there were no provisions for filing a lawsuit without first going through the panels.

Other provisions came along with this in the name of reform. The most significant was a one year time restriction on filing a claim for medical malpractice, the shortest time allowed in the nation.

Where it has gone

A suit filed by Tonya Claycomb on behalf of her child challenged the new law requiring panels. She alleged that her son suffered irreparable brain damage as the result of malpractice. The suit filed attempted to go around the new law and directly to the court.

Judge Phillip J Shepard agreed, setting up the showdown. The case was appealed and sent quickly to the Supreme Court of Kentucky for a final decision.

Other suits are pending, awaiting guidance from the high court. As it stands right now cases will not proceed through any mechanism until the high court has ruled.

What this means for you

If you feel you or a loved one have suffered because of a mistake by a doctor, time is of the essence. The one year limit is still in place, even without action being taken in the courts. While we expect a ruling very shortly on how lawsuits will proceed, it is important to stay on top of the latest developments.

It is critical in these changing times to consult with an attorney experienced in medical malpractice cases. The procedures for these will be sorted out soon and the best way to handle your case will become clear.