New Bill Regarding Medical Malpractice Passes in Kentucky

On March 3, 2017 the state of Kentucky passed a new bill that would require any medical malpractice claim to be reviewed and scrutinized by a panel of expert advisors. This bill was finally passed by the Kentucky Senate just 2 days after it got passed by the House of Representatives. This bill will be sent to and finalized by Governor Matt Bevin.

This proposed law requires the plaintiffs to give the medical malpractice claims to be reviewed. They will then be submitted to a panel of expert advisors that will go through the case and determine if the claims are valid and have any merit. The advisory panel will then have to conclude if the claim is true or frivolous and will then give a conclusion if they should proceed with the case or not.

Many people who support this bill say that the 3 member panels will aid in weeding out false and baseless medical malpractice claims and lawsuits.

This is because these lawsuits raise the cost of malpractice insurance thus burdening the system of the court. However, people that were opposed to this bill said that they were concerned about the rights of people to a trial by jury that will not be given to them. This will delay access for them to court and ultimately might lead to justice being denied.

After the bill was passed, there were 2 more changes that were added to it and were approved by the Senate. The changes include that the review panels must issue their opinions on the malpractice claims within 9 months as opposed to the original 6 month time frame that was mentioned in the bill. This will allow the panel to go through a thorough investigation and research on their part so that the result comes in a timely yet effective manner.

Also, in the final version of the bill, the trial judges will be deciding on the admissibility and validity of the opinions of the advisory panel rather than just automatically accepting their conclusion. It is not to be mistaken that their opinions will be able to make the final verdict albeit, might have a huge impact on it. These new changes made by the House of Representatives had the supporters of this bill voice their concerns regarding its constitutionality.

A personal injury plaintiff’s attorney, Representative Chad McCoy asked his co workers in law to vote against this bill. He further stated that instead of an expert advisory panel he preferred an affidavit — a written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation –, for use as evidence in the court. It is also known as certificate of merit. This certificate is signed by an expert or professional attesting that the claims being made are valid, concrete and are not frivolous in any manner.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey do not have any review panels in the medical sector but they have statutes that allow them to have affidavits and certificate of merits in cases where there is medical malpractice involved.

This bill, as many people believe restricts them from making any medical malpractice claims. However, it just ensures to protect both the medical community and the patients from injustice. Therefore, people are not being discouraged to make any claims. People who have been injured due to any medical malpractice are always entitled to make any claims and file for lawsuits. This bill is only being implemented to flush out the false and frivolous ones.