FRANKFORT — A controversial proposal that would require lawsuits against nursing homes to go before a medical review panel before being filed in court will not be voted on this legislative session.
House Health and Welfare Chairman Rep. Tom Burch said Thursday that House Bill 361 will need further study and work. Burch said it's possible the issue will be reconsidered this summer.
Burch said he was not convinced that nursing homes were the only group targeted by television advertisements by lawyers seeking clients. Burch said he also had concerns that a review panel would create delays.
Burch's comments came after a hearing in the House Health and Welfare Committee on House Bill 361, which is being pushed by the nursing home industry. Wanda Meade, a nursing home administrator, said the industry has seen an increase in lawsuits filed by out-of-state lawyers who are targeting good nursing homes that have not been sued in the past and have had clean health-inspection reviews.
Lawyers for the nursing home industry testified that personal injury lawyers know nursing homes will settle rather than pay for three to five years of litigation, even if the nursing homes believe a claim is bogus. The lawsuits are driving up malpractice insurance and the cost of care in Kentucky, they argued.
HB 361 would create a panel of medical professionals which would review cases against nursing homes and make a finding. The finding would be admissible in court but would not stop a plaintiff or a family member from taking the case to court.
Those opposing the bill say the medical review panels will discourage lawyers from taking nursing home cases. The measure would also create an undue burden and could delay justice, advocates for the elderly said. Some who testified Thursday said that only through the court process did they find out that nursing homes had falsified documents about their loved ones' care.