In medical malpractice cases, negligence means the failure of the doctor, hospital or health care provider to use the reasonable care, skill or knowledge ordinarily used by health care professionals under similar circumstances. Until now, these cases have all fallen under the exclusive domain of the Medical Dental Screening Panel (“the Panel”). When medical malpractice was suspected, prior to filing a lawsuit, a medical malpractice claim had to be presented first to the Panel, which is composed of doctors, attorneys and hospital administrators. After a formal petition was filed by the claimant and a response given by the medical provider, the Panel considered the evidence submitted and would then issue one of three determinations. (1) The Panel could decide that a reasonable probability of medical malpractice exists. (2) The Panel could decide that a reasonable probability of medical malpractice does not exist. (3) The Panel could conclude that, from the evidence which was presented, no determination can be made one way or the other.
The conclusions of the Medical Dental Screening Panel were not binding. That is to say, a lawsuit could still be filed, regardless of the Panel’s findings. However, the findings of the Panel could, on occasion, help the parties resolve disputed claims without the necessity of going to trial.
Recent tort reform in Nevada has now changed the way this works, and the injured patient has the right to skip the Medical Screening process and file the lawsuit directly in District Court.
Medical malpractice claims are among the most difficult to pursue. 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.
As for the current medical malpractice “crisis,” we believe the real reason for the increase in doctors’ insurance premiums is because their insurance carriers are trying to recover losses they sustained in the stock market, and because of their poor decisions in continuing to insure doctors who repeatedly commit medical malpractice. The vast majority of doctors provide excellent medical care in our community. Unfortunately, a small percentage of doctors cause the majority of the medical malpractice claims. The sad reality with recent tort reform efforts is that the only “winners” will be the insurance carriers.