There are a number of rules that apply specifically to New Mexico medical malpractice claims. In New Mexico, it often necessary to take your claim to a Medical Review Panel prior to filing suit.
It is important to know when this is necessary. In addition, there may be a number of medical providers so it will be important to know which rules apply to which providers.
These determinations and others are extremely important in medical malpractice claims since they will determine the basic requirements of the claims, the amounts that may be recovered, and most importantly at the outset of a case, the deadlines that apply.
The Medical Review Panel
The Medical Review Panel is made up of both doctors and lawyers. The review panel will review evidence and hear testimony of both the parties and medical experts.
Upon reviewing the evidence and the testimony, the panel will make a finding on the claims of medical negligence.
Qualified Healthcare Providers
It important to determine whether the doctor or medical provider in your case is covered by the Medical Malpractice Act as a qualified healthcare provider.
“Qualified Healthcare Providers” does not have the meaning that you might think. Instead, it means that the provider has opted for coverage under the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act. The Act provides a number of protections, one of which is the Medical Review Panel requirement.
Keep in mind that there are often numerous medical providers involved in any particular patient’s medical care. Likewise, there may be numerous acts of medical negligence by various providers in a case of medical malpractice.
There are some medical providers that have opted out of the coverage of the Act, which is basically an insurance plan. In cases involving those providers, the Medical Review Panel is not necessary prior to filing suit.
In short, some of the doctors or facilities may be qualified healthcare providers while others are not. In these cases, different rules will apply to the various providers. It is therefore important to determine whether the doctor or medical provider in your case is covered by the Medical Malpractice Act as a qualified healthcare provider.
Many valid medical malpractice claims that later succeed in the courts are first denied by the Medical Review Panel.
Most importantly, the patient can still file a lawsuit even if the panel determines there was no medical negligence. Likewise, the doctor may refuse to settle despite the panel’s findings.
The Review Panel is not likely to rule in the patient’s favor, but this process is still necessary in pursuing your claims.
Despite the lack of any binding authority of the Medical Review Panel’s findings, it is a necessary first step to bringing a medical malpractice claim against qualified healthcare providers.
In essence, it is simply a hurdle that has been imposed under the Medical Malpractice Act to protect doctors against lawsuits for their negligent medical care. It serves only to deter injured patients from seeking justice for their injuries. Despite the unfairness of the requirement, you cannot bring an action against a qualified healthcare provider without first clearing this administrative hurdle.
An Attorney Can Help
Medical malpractice cases are complex and often difficult. It is important to have the guidance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Among the first tasks of the attorney will be to determine the qualified healthcare provider status of each provider in the stream of your medical care.