Utah Bill Would Change Medical Malpractice Process

A Utah bill would alter the process by which medical providers are summoned to appear before a pre-litigation panel in medical malpractice lawsuits, according to a Salt Lake Tribune report.

Currently, patients who sue healthcare providers in Utah must first move their cases through a pre-litigation panel — a process designed to identify frivolous suits.

Often, providers who aren't at fault are named as parties in the suit and are called before the panel. For instance, if a physician removes a sponge that was left in a patient by another physician, the provider who removed the sponge would also be named in the lawsuit.

The process is structured this way to protect patients from the statute of limitations, according to the report. If evidence surfaces throughout a trial that finds another provider involved in the patient's care to be at fault for the medical malpractice, it could be too late for the patient to sue that physician.

This bill seeks to alter that process. Under House Bill 135, accused providers would be required to summon other potentially guilty parties to the panel. It would no longer be necessary for plaintiffs to name the parties. Also, under the bill, accused providers would not be required to report a summons to malpractice insurers and hospitals unless they are found by the pre-litigation panel to be at fault, according to the report.

The bill is headed to the state House of Representatives.

More Articles on Medical Malpractice:

Study: Malpractice Claims Go Unresolved for 4 Years of Average Physician's Career
Ohio Supreme Court Upholds 4-Year Cap for Malpractice Claims
Top 10 Reasons Physicians Practice Defensive Medicine

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