Does the Medical Review Panel Process
In Louisiana, a person
who wishes to institute a claim of medical
malpractice is not allowed to file a
lawsuit against a health care provider
until after a medical review panel has
been convened and reviewed the case.
The process of instituting
a claim for medical malpractice begins
with the patient filing a request for
review. A request for review can be
in petition form or letter form and
it asks that a medical review panel
be convened to review the actions of
a health care provider that qualifies
under the Louisiana Medical Malpractice
In order to qualify under
the medical malpractice act and receive
the benefit of the $500,000 cap on damages,
a physician or hospital must pay a surcharge
or premium to the Louisiana Patient's
Compensation Fund, (the "PCF").
After a patient requests
the formation of a medical review panel,
the PCF will notify the physicians and
the patient that they need to pick an
attorney chairman to run the medical
review panel. The attorney chairman
is responsible for setting the deadlines
to submit evidence to the review panel,
to convene the review panel and to instruct
the physician members of the review
panel on the law.
A medical review panel
is made up of three physicians who generally
practice in the same specialty as the
accused physician. One member is chosen
by the patient, another is chosen by
the defendant doctor and the third is
picked by the first two physician members
of the medical review panel.
Once formed, the medical
review will remain intact for one year,
unless the period is extended by the
court to accomodate ongoing depositions
or other discovery.
The parties are allowed
to submit evidence in the form of medical
records, depositions, affidavits, expert
reports and a position paper setting
forth their respective claims. The medical
review panel meets at the attorney chairman's
office to discuss and decide the case.
The attorney chairman does not get to
decide the case. Following the decision
the attorney chairman reduces the decision
to writing and forwards it by certified
mail to the parties.
The law provides for three
possible decisions of the medical review
panel: (i) that the defendant health
care provider failed to comply with
the appropriate standard of care, (ii)
that the defendant health care provider
did not breach the standard of care
, or (iii) that a question of fact bearing
on liability exists which does not require
an expert opinion.
After receipt of the opinion
the patient has 90 days to file suit
in state district court.