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Medical review panel law struck down as unconstitutional

The state of Kentucky was set to limit the rights of victims of medical malpractice. But the State Circuit court struck down the new law on Monday, October 30.

Specifically, the law called for a panel of medical providers to review all claims against health care providers. Without this panel's approval, cases could not be presented in court. Once presented, the opinions of the panel could be used as evidence.

A victory for the injured

The law was struck down by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd. It was brought by a mother who claims her newborn son has brain damage and cerebral palsy as a consequence of substandard care.

Judge Shepherd wrote that requiring an injured party to first pass muster through a medical review panel was an unacceptable obstacle in obtaining justice, and a violation of the state's open court doctrine.

Shepherd acknowledged that the law might allow a number of unworthy claims to advance in the courts. But, he said, many worthy claimants would be prevented from going forward because of costs.

Governor promises appeal

The law was championed by Gov. Matt Bevin as "tort reform" aimed at preventing frivolous medical malpractice claims.

It has long been our contention at Ewing McMillin that calls for tort reform in the area of medical malpractice efforts are really just a way to protect the healthcare industry against claims.

Other states besides Kentucky had passed laws requiring the approval of medical review panels. Some of these laws have been struck down in their respective states.

Gov. Bevin's office promised it will appeal the decision.

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