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Are New Hampshire’s Screening Panels for Medical Injury Claims Unconstitutional?

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NH Screening Panels – In 2005, New Hampshire enacted RSA 519-B, creating mandatory screening panels for all medical injury claims.  Under the law, all medical malpractice cases filed in Superior Court must first be screened by a three-person panel.

Kentucky has a medical malpractice screening panel law requirement similar to New Hampshire’s law.  Recently, the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down the Medical Review Panels Act as unconstitutional.  The Court held that screening panels were unconstitutional because they delayed a person’s access to the courts.  In the words of the Supreme Court, the review panels created a “mandatory delay.”

What About NH’s Screening Panel Law?

The New Hampshire Screening Panel law provides, in part, “Claims for medical injury should be resolved as early and inexpensively as possible…  Presentation of claims to a medical review panel is intended to help identify both meritorious and non-meritorious claim without the delay and expense of a court trial… The panel process will encourage the prompt resolution of claims….”

New Hampshire Constitution, Part I, Article 14, provides that every person is “entitled to a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws… to obtain right and justice freely… without delay.”  This provision is similar to the Kentucky Constitution provision relied on by the Kentucky Supreme Court to find medical malpractice screening panels unconstitutional. Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Claycomb, 2017-SC-000614.

If you have been injured by a medical error, please call us at (603) 288-1403 to see if we can help or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.