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Medical Review Panel Explained

INsight Interview with Dr. King from Sweeney Law Firm explaining the Medical Review Panel. 

Video Transcript:

Q Welcome back to INsight.  We’re at Sweeney Law Firm, with Dr. King, and we want to talk about this kind of thing you may not know about.  I don’t know about it, the medical review panel.  So, when I file a lawsuit or a lawsuit is filed for medical malpractice or maybe before that, where does this medical review panel step in?

A So, the medical review panel can be quite complicated and we file the case, not actually with a Court, we file with the Department of Insurance and that is what begins the process of the medical review panel.  The panel consists of three physicians and one attorney, who is the panel chairperson, and the three physicians, their task is to review the medical records of a particular case to determine whether or not they believe that there was malpractice, essentially, a deviation from the standard of care is what we call it, and the panel chairperson, the lawyer, is there to give them legal advice about how to make their decisions.  The process begins with the plaintiff presenting to the panel what they call a submission.  We submit evidence of the medical records along with sort of an argument that tells why we think that there was medical malpractice.  Then the defense has a chance to make their argument and then we get a final chance to make a rebuttal argument.  The medical review panel then meets, the three doctors review all this information, and then they render an opinion as to whether or not they think there was medical malpractice. 

Q So, I would think in certain cases, obviously, the doctors think, holy cow, that’s completely medical malpractice, but I would think, they’re doctors, they’re going to decide with the doctor, maybe?

A I believe that probably does happen, from time to time.  I think most doctors are honest.  I think that most doctors, though, unfortunately, don’t really necessarily understand what it means to commit medical malpractice because it can be quite simple.  I think a lot of doctors think that it has to be some egregious error, like they intended to cause harm.

Q Right. 

A And so those kind of doctors are never going to say that there’s malpractice, but from a legal standpoint, that’s simply not the case.  It’s simply a question of whether or not this doctor, in this, situation complied with the standard of care. 

Q As a physician and an attorney, you’ve got an interesting perspective, here.  Have you served when you were, or, well, have you served on a medical review panel?

A I actually have not.

Q Okay.

A I still do practice as a physician part-time, but I have not actually sat on a medical review panel and I’m sure I never will now that I am also an attorney, but I have written many, many submissions to panels and we have gotten many favorable results for our clients.  Now, even we, being a physician, I know how to talk to physicians.  I know how to write a submission in a way that they’re going to understand, but even the cases that we truly believe in, we can lose half of those cases at a medical review panel.  So, I do believe that there are, there is a little bit of doctors just not understanding and saying, you know, I’m just not going to say it’s malpractice. 

Q So, the case isn’t over with the decision of the medical review panel?

A Correct.

Q Okay. 

A Now, often, if the medical review panel does think that there was malpractice, then usually the case ends there or the defense will settle those cases, but not always, and then if we lose a panel, but we truly do believe that this was malpractice, we will pursue it in a state court.  We have that right to do that.

Q And so, ultimately, then it’s up to the jury?

A Correct.  So, we can actually take a case to a jury trial.

Q There’s a lot to learn here.  If you want to learn more, you can always jump online to learn your legal rights and options at Sweeneylawfirm.com.  If you think you’ve got a case, just go ahead and contact them at the number on the screen.  We’ll be right back on INsight.