The Medical Review Panel is a necessary first step in filing claims against a Qualified Healthcare Provider under the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act. However, it is simply a hurdle that an injured patient must clear.
To begin, you should understand what a Qualified Healthcare Provider is under the Medical Malpractice Act. It does not have the customary meaning. All it means is that the medical provider has obtained minimal insurance through the Act and complied with a few other trivial requirements. Many providers are not QHP’s so the Medical Review Panel requirement would not apply to them.
The Panel’s decisions are non-binding on the injured patient. The patient should not be discouraged by a finding that there was no negligence. To the contrary, the patient should expect it as it is rare for the Panel to find in favor of the patient even where clear negligence is suggested.
The patient can still file a lawsuit. Presumably, the patient has sought the guidance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Prior to filing the claim with the panel, the attorney would have already sought out the evaluation of an established medical expert in the relevant field of medicine. If the patient has an opinion from a highly qualified expert, then the patient should rely on his or her expert, not the decisions of the panel.
Once you have received the unfavorable ruling (or in rare cases a favorable ruling), you have met the requirements of the Medical Malpractice Act, and a lawsuit can now be filed in the courts.
The Albuquerque attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. can help. It is important to seek legal guidance right away. These cases are complex, costly and can take many months to get the medical expert evaluation. It is crucial that these cases be properly and timely prepared which should begin very soon after medical malpractice is suspected.
We can be reached at (505) 242-5958.