Is Connecticut law keeping valid malpractice claims out of the courts?

Recently, a law in Connecticut which regards medical malpractice claims has come under criticism. Specifically, some are claiming that this law is keeping some legitimate medical malpractice claims from being able to make it into the court system.

The law in question was enacted in 2005. Under the law, in order to be allowed to sue for medical malpractice, an individual must include with their lawsuit an opinion letter which supports the allegations they are making. Under the law, this opinion letter has to be done by a medical expert with “similar” credentials to the medical professionals who the individual who wishes to bring the lawsuit claims committed malpractice. Reportedly, if an individual fails to meet the requirements of the opinion letter law, their lawsuit is to be dismissed.

Proponents of this law claim that it helps prevent frivolous claims from getting into the court system.

However, others claim that this law is actually resulting in some legitimate medical malpractice claims getting dismissed. According to a review conducted by the Associated Press, this law has kept some “seemingly legitimate lawsuits” out of Connecticut courts.

Reportedly, many medical malpractice cases have been dismissed for failure to meet the above-mentioned “similar credentials” requirement of the opinion letter law. According to an article on CBS News’ website, judges in Connecticut have read the “similar credentials” requirement of the law to mean that a medical expert who is writing an opinion letter must have identical credentials to the medical professionals accused of malpractice for the opinion letter to be valid.

It is very important for individuals with valid medical malpractice claims to be able to bring their claims into the court system. Thus, it is worrisome to think that Connecticut law might be preventing some individuals in the state with valid claims from doing so. Thus, one hopes that, if the opinion letter law is in fact keeping legitimate claims out of the courts, steps will be taken to address this problem.

Source: CBS News, “Conn. law nixing legitimate malpractice lawsuits,” Jan. 8, 2012

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