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What does medical malpractice tribunal do?

I read the other post about the medical malpractice tribunals in Massachusetts but I'm curious about how the tribunal decides if a malpractice case has merit. What, exactly, do they do? Is it like a mini trial with witnesses? Thanks for your help.

 
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Editor's Response

The panel is comprised of a judge, a doctor, a lawyer and presides over a hearing that is similar to a motions hearing at court.  There are no witness.  The parties merely offer proof in the form of evidence that can range from hospital records to articles form medical journals. The procedure and rules are spelled out in Massachusetts General Laws chapter 231, Section 60B.  According to that section, the panel must determine if the "evidence presented if properly substantiated is sufficient to raise a legitimate question of liability appropriate for judicial inquiry or whether the plaintiff’s case is merely an unfortunate medical result."

 

In making that determination, the panel applies a fairly liberal standard and will allow the matter to proceed if "anywhere in the evidence, from whatever source, any combination of circumstances could be found from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the plaintiff."  In practice, most experienced medical malpractice attorneys will be able to tell the injured party, before he or she takes the case, whether the claim will satisfy the burden imposed by the tribunal.  As you may know from reading our other posts, even if the panel decides against the injured party, she may still proceed with the lawsuit if she is willing to post a $6000 bond.  Hope that helps.  For more information, visit our Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Discussion Forum.

 

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