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Kentucky Supreme Court strikes down malpractice panels

Residents of Louisville should be aware that Kentucky's Supreme Court has rejected medical review panels, a move that makes it much easier for medical malpractice lawsuits to favor affected patients. The decision was unanimous and struck down a preexisting law meant to impose limits on these lawsuits.

The law that was struck down required that all claims filed against health care providers, hospitals and nursing homes must first go through an evaluation process before proceeding in court. This process put each request before panels of medical providers, and the opinions of the panels could be used as evidence in each case. However, the law resulted in a substantial backlog of hundreds of malpractice cases that got stuck in the process, and relatively few cases had gone before the panels.

The state's Supreme Court stated that because the law delays access to Kentucky's courts, the law was unconstitutional. The law that was struck down was sponsored by a senator who is also a physician. The governor who signed the measure into law has stated he finds the court ruling very disappointing, as Kentuckians will now have to deal with increases in health care costs and shortages of doctors as a result of lawsuits. The physician who sponsored the measure claims he is considering options such as a possible constitutional amendment to allow voters to decide if they want the law or not.

The Kentucky Medical Association released a statement expressing disappointment in the Supreme Court ruling. The KMA stated that striking down the law would inhibit access to quality care by increasing costs and discouraging physician recruitment.

With the law struck down, injured parties and their affected family members may have less trouble seeking compensation for damages such as pain and suffering and lost wages. An attorney with personal injury experience may be able to help affected parties navigate the waters of medical malpractice. In the event of permanent disability as a result of an injury, an attorney may also be able to help the injured person seek benefits.

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