By Dave Adkisson
“Have you or a loved one been the victim of…”
That’s a familiar, tiresome line that is common to the non-stop personal injury lawyer commercials on our television screens. They go on to say that they are “looking out for you” and that they will “get you the money you deserve.”
The truth is the sponsors of these ads – often out-of-state lawsuit factories – are really only looking out for themselves…and for the next big settlement from one of the myriad frivolous suits they file.
It is time for Kentucky to say enough is enough to the personal injury lawyers who prey upon our healthcare providers and cost the rest of us a lot of money. Each of Kentucky’s surrounding states has already acted and it is time we do the same.
Medical malpractice liability takes a significant financial toll on Kentucky’s health care providers, including nurses, doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes that serve our communities. The growing number of meritless lawsuits against providers increases costs for consumers and diverts critical funds away from care.
That is why the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the state’s health care providers have formed a new group to support legislation that would expose frivolous lawsuits. The idea is to create expert medical review panels that will provide an independent review of lawsuits against health care providers to help improve the system.
It is time to return the focus and resources of health care where they belong – on caring for patients, not fighting lawsuits.
The increasing cost of civil litigation, through legal fees, higher liability insurance premiums, defensive business practices, and reduced investment opportunities, is a significant burden for Kentucky’s health care and business communities. Medical review panels will stabilize our medical malpractice system, making the state more attractive to employers while helping to retain and attract quality healthcare providers.
Under a system including medical review panels, independent experts will evaluate whether the standard of care was violated in a medical malpractice claim. Each side of the lawsuit will get to appoint a person on the panel, and the third person is appointed by the first two.
You will no doubt hear a litany of reasons why these panels are bad policy. Remember the source of this howling – the law firms that see Kentucky’s health care providers as their personal ATM machines.
I encourage you to look past the misleading rhetoric and focus on the facts. Medical review panel legislation will protect legitimate cases while weeding out the meritless claims that clog our courts. No plaintiff will be denied a day in court, and no person will lose any legal rights whatsoever.
The independent panel provides more accountability by producing expert opinions that are admissible in court. Legitimate claims against providers would be validated while meritless claims would be quickly exposed.
This solution is simple, fair, and reasonable.
Please encourage your legislators to support medical review panels and ensure critical resources are spent where they belong, on Kentucky’s patients.
Dave Adkisson is President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.