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New rule could affect many Kentucky pediatric malpractice claims

Medical personnel who tend to Kentucky's children must meet certain standards of care. They often make decisions that affect the lives of their young patients. If those decisions turn out to be mistakes, severe harm or even death could follow. Under these circumstances, parents may be entitled to file pediatric malpractice claims.

In order to do so, however, those parents must first overcome the challenge of a new law here in Kentucky regarding the filing of medical malpractice claims. Beginning on June 30, anyone wishing to file a claim must first present evidence to a medical review panel. These panels are meant to weed out so-called "frivolous" claims.

Before taking any action in a Kentucky civil court, the claim must be filed with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. A panel of three licensed medical professionals, chaired by an attorney, is then convened to review the claim. In order for a lawsuit to move forward, the panel must determine that a breach of care occurred and that it substantially harmed the victim.

Receiving an opinion could take as long as a year, so two exceptions were built into the law. If the panel takes more than nine months to render an opinion, a lawsuit may be filed. In the alternative, the panel process could be avoided all together if the parties agree to move forward with civil court action.

One advantage to the panel process is that its findings may be used as evidence in a pediatric malpractice case. Other than that, many people question whether the new law is even constitutional. That issue could end up being answered as many people with valid claims attempt to be heard.

Source:, "Kentucky medical malpractice lawsuits need to pass new muster", Deborah Yetter, June 30, 2017

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