"A long-term care industry group wants a new law in Kentucky that would create medical review panels to evaluable potential lawsuits against nursing homes, personal care homes and some facilities for the intellectually and developmentally disabled," reports Valarie Honeycutt Spears of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The panel would be made up of three physicians and chaired by an attorney who would not be allowed to vote. The panel's findings would be admissible in court. The panel would "help eliminate frivolous lawsuits against the long-term care industry," said Ruby Jo Cummins Lubarsky, president of the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities. "Kentucky's long-term care profession has seen a drastic increase in litigation from lawyers whose sole practice has been limited to targeting our nursing facilities. Their primary tactic is to exploit the integrity of our survey process with misleading advertisements designed to alarm the public about a supposed failure to provide quality care in our facilities."
The Kentucky Justice Association, formerly the Kentucky Academy of Trial Attorneys, is against the proposal because it "makes nursing home corporations less accountable for the neglect and abuse of Kentucky's elderly citizens," said Maresa Fawns, the association's executive director. Bernie Vonderheide, founder of Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform, is also opposed, saying the formation of medical review panels is "blatantly unfair to residents of nursing homes."
The proposal has not yet been filed for the 2012 General Assembly. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a lawyer, has said he "would never support any measure that would deny a person his or her day in court if injured," but added he understands "that small, rural nursing homes are in extreme jeopardy because of out-of-state predatory law firms. Given that, the only responsible thing is to gather information on the issue and keep an open mind." (Read more)