Introduction: Certain jurisdictions in the United States require medical liability and malpractice cases be heard by a medical review panel (MRP) prior to trial. In this article, we review the role of MRP in the current medico-legal environment with a specific focus on the neurosurgery specialty.
Methods: A retrospective review was conducted to gather all literature from years 1970-2018, including legislative statues and bills, that relate the MRP for malpractice litigation.
Results: Nationally, seventeen jurisdictions (Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming) require medical liability/malpractice cases be heard by a screening panel prior to initiation of litigation. All MRPs are pre-litigation screening measures and typically are comprised of at least one medical and one legal professional. The size of the panels can vary from 2 members (Hawaii) to as many as 6 members (Montana and New Mexico). The fundamental premise of these screening panels is to determine if a medical malpractice claim is warranted before entering the high cost litigation system. Generally, MRP proceedings are informal and mandatory, with some jurisdictions allowing admissibility of the MRP’s opinion in court. While all MRPs are asked to render an opinion on whether a claim is a violation of the standard of care (assessment of liability), some panels (Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, and Montana) can assess damages. The effectiveness and limitations of MRP are subject to debate and controversy.
Conclusions: Medical review panels are mandatory, pre-trial screening measures in 17 states and an important medico-legal concept for practicing neurosurgeons.
Patient Care: This review will summarize for practicing neurosurgeons the current role of medical review panels in the U.S.
Learning Objectives: To appreciate the role of medical review panels during the malpractice litigation practice as it pertains to neurosurgery