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Medical Malpractice Screening Panels Not Working for New Hampshire

Posted by Andrew J. Barovick | Jan 10, 2009 | 0 Comments

A long-established staple of the tort reform movement has been a push for screening panels that evaluate medical malpractice claims before trial–the goals being to dispose of the case without the need for for a trial and its attendant expenses, and to do so for a reasonable settlement amount.  According to its proponents, the end result would be a reduction in the high premiums some physicians pay for medical malpractice liability insurance.  Such panels are usually comprised of a judge (active or retired) and a lawyer for each party.  Some lawmakers in our own state have proposed turning such panels into “health courts,” in which the judges would be able to retain their own, “objective” physician-witnesses to review the merits of the case. 

Unfortunatley, such panels have proved to be inefficient in practice, and their results often favor doctors and hospitals over patients .  Nancy West , writing for New Hampshire's Union Leader , describes the problems that have resulted in her state following the implementation of such screening panels, and notes that they have not fared any better in the neighboring state of Maine, whose chief justice , Leigh Saufley,  opined in a 2007 opinion that:  “The [Maine panel system] has, unfortunately, become a cumbersome process with unpredictable results that costs both plaintiffs and defendants money and time in a way that was not intended by the legislature.”

About the Author

Andrew J. Barovick

Mr. Barovick is a graduate of Columbia College and Cardozo School of Law. He began his legal career at the Queens District Attorney’s Office, where he tried over 20 felonies to verdict, and argued an equal number of appeals before the Appellate Division, Second Department, the New York Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

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REPRESENTATIVE VERDICTS & SETTLEMENTS:

$7.9 million dollars for infant client who suffered severe brain injuries due to post- delivery medical malpractice.

$500,000 wrongful death/medical malpractice settlement on behalf of patient brought to hospital emergency room with serious injuries who suffered complications while unmonitored and died.

$425,000 wrongful death/medical malpractice settlement during trial on behalf of senior hospital patient whose surgeon failed to timely address her worsening symptoms, resulting in her death.

$250,000 to young man whose physician failed to diagnose an impending torsion testicle, causing the loss of the affected testicle.

$200,000 to young mother whose OB/GYN failed to timely diagnose and treat her ectopic pregnancy, resulting in excruciating, long-term pain and the need for surgery to address the ectopic pregnancy once it was diagnosed.

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