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Judge strikes down law providing for medical malpractice review panels

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd has ruled that the new law mandating that medical malpractice cases must first be presented to medical review panels is unconstitutional.

This decision is a boost for people who have suffered injuries in the care of providers. Medical review panels add an additional obstacle to people seeking justice due to substandard care.

The law had the effect of protecting wealthy professionals and institutions from claims by ordinary people who happened to be injured while being treated.

The law was championed by the Governor and Legislature on the grounds that it constituted genuine tort reform - a way to discourage "frivolous" lawsuits.

Discouraging legitimate claims

Judge Shepherd made the point that while medical review panels might discourage a handful of inappropriate claims, it also was likely to discourage people with credible claims who cannot afford or endure the administrative process.

Medical review panels, it was pointed out, have a natural tendency to side with fellow medical providers.

At Garmer & Prather, it has always been our contention that "tort reform" is really just a way to limit payouts to patients and to their families.

Kentucky is not the only state to have passed laws calling for medical review panels. These laws have been struck down in some of the states.

The governor's office pledged to appeal the court's ruling.

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