In cases where its employees and staff have been negligent in providing medical treatment, hospitals, just like physicians, can be held legally responsible for a patient’s injuries, or for medical malpractice performed there. Previously, Hospital Liability claims would fall under the domain of the Medical Dental Screening Panel (“the Panel”). Now, an injured party has the option of proceeding before the Panel, or filing suit in District Court and by-passing the Panel entirely.
When the party wishes to file a claim before the Panel, a medical malpractice claim must first be presented to its members. The Panel is composed of doctors, attorneys and hospital administrators. After a formal petition has been filed by the claimant and a response given by the medical provider, the Panel considers the evidence submitted and then issues one of three determinations. (1) The Panel may decide that a reasonable probability of medical malpractice exists. (2) The Panel may decide that a reasonable probability of medical malpractice does not exist. (3) The Panel may conclude that, from the evidence that was presented, no determination can be made one way or the other.
The conclusions of the Medical Dental Screening Panel are not binding. That is to say, a lawsuit may be filed, regardless of the Panel’s findings. However, the findings of the Panel can sometimes help the parties resolve disputed claims without the necessity of going to trial.
Medical malpractice is one of the most complicated areas of the law. If you think you may have a medical malpractice claim, you should consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights in greater detail.