William F. McMurry’s thoughts on medical malpractice review panels:
As a former President of American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (APBLA.org), the only organization in the U.S. which is accredited by the American Bar Association to certify “specialists” in Medical Malpractice, I feel that my opinion may offer some value to your readers. Also, I have been Board Certified in Medical Malpractice for over 2 decades.
As an insurance defense lawyer early in my career I defended doctors in medical malpractice cases, although after leaving Boehl Stopher in 1985 I have primarily represented patients.
There are two points I would like to make:
- The requirement of a panel review serves only to build delay into the resolution of medical malpractice cases.
- Delay in the resolution of medical negligence cases is costly for all parties involved, but these costs are easier born by the insurance companies who pay the defense costs for the medical care providers.
For plaintiffs in the field of medical malpractice litigation, the cliché is true: justice delayed is justice denied.
Of the 531 Complaints filed, only 58 have been assigned to a panel. This is evidence of delay in a substantial majority of the cases filed over the last year.
Even before the panel system was put into place, the average length of time for a medical malpractice case to resolve was about 2 years. Now I expect these cases will not resolve for over 3 up to 4 years and this is only an average. Many cases will take over 4 years to resolve. I might add that this is a long time for the case to hang over the heads of the healthcare providers who have been named in these lawsuits.
When the prospect of panels came before the Legislature, I felt they would provide no advantage to patients or to healthcare providers. Though delays typically benefit the defendant, panels in other states have not demonstrated a reduction in insurance premiums for physicians, clinics or other providers who purchase liability insurance.
I will bet that you cannot find a single doctor (who pays premiums on his own behalf) whose premiums have dropped in the last year in Kentucky.
I am happy to discuss this further with you anytime, Andy and I thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on this important subject. I might add, my brother is an obstetrician/gynecologist and he and I have compared experiences over nearly 40 years in our respective careers.