Wednesday morning, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Sen. Julie Denton, which would establish a medical review panel process for lawsuits against long-term care facilities. The Chamber supports medical review panels because the rising costs associated with medical malpractice liability continue to take a significant financial toll on Kentucky’s health care industry, resulting in increased costs for businesses and consumers and contributing to a shortage of medical professionals. Kentucky has become a target state for personal injury lawyers who focus their entire practice on suing nursing homes and collecting large contingency fees. The Chamber has long advocated for tort reform measures that reduce frivolous lawsuits that add to the cost of doing business.
Though we support comprehensive tort reform to make Kentucky’s business climate more competitive, SB 9 is a positive step in the right direction. The panel, consisting of three physicians and an independent moderator, would determine whether or not the standard of care has been violated, with the findings being admissible in court. It would not determine a finding of fact or conclusion of law, nor would it restrict or delay a plaintiff’s access to the court system. SB 9 simply provides an independent review of a case to ensure legitimate claims are validated and frivolous ones are exposed. It’s a common-sense, fair approach that has had success in a number of other states, recently including Indiana.