CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Legal Newsline)-The Medical Review Panel that was created in Wyoming to root out frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits has reduced the number of claims filed through 2007, an official told Legal Newsline.
Since the program went into effect July 1, 2005, of the 89 malpractice claims filed, 24 were either withdrawn or dismissed, settled or partially dismissed, or a lawsuit was filed but was settled before trial, says a report given to state legislators.
The program, which is administered by the office of Attorney General Bruce Salzburg, had an effect on about 25 percent of medical malpractice claims filed in the state, Eric Easton, the senior deputy attorney general who oversees the program, told Legal Newsline.
"Maybe in 25 percent of cases were having some help in resolving (claims) before they go to court," Easton said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Before claims are filed in state district court, papers must be filed with the Medical Review Panel, which consists of two healthcare providers, two attorneys, who are appointed by the program director. The fifth member, a lay person, is appointed by the other four members.
The panel's review is not binding on either party and the health care provider may opt out while both parties may stipulate to opting out, Easton said.
In 32 of the 89 cases, the healthcare provider failed to either answer the claim or waived the panel. In 34 cases, the claimant and the healthcare provider jointly waived the panel, while in six cases, the claimant dismissed the claim.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.