Choosing the Attorney Chairman and the Medical Review Panel

Once a request for review has been timely filed with the Division of Administration, the Louisiana Patient's Compensation Fund (the "PCF"), will receive a copy of the complaint and notify the physicians of the request for review. The PCF then sends a letter to counsel for the parties, if the parties have legal counsel, or directly to the parties if no legal counsel is named. That letter informs the parties that they must mutualy choose an attorney chairman to chair the medical review panel.

If an attorney chairman is not chosen within two years from the date the request for review is filed, then the PCF will notify the parties that the case will be dismissed within 90 days of receipt of the letter. If the case is dismissed, it is dismissed forever and cannot be revived.

Usually, the attorneys for the parties communicate and agree upon the selection of an experienced and unbiased attorney chairman to run the medical review panel. Again, if the patient does not have an attorney, the attorney for the defendant doctor will usually make several suggestions of acceptable attorney chairmen.

If the parties cannot mutually agree on the selection of an attorney chairman, then they notify the PCF and the Louisiana Supreme Court will supply a list of attorneys from which each party can strike names until a mutual selection can be agreed upon. Most attorneys avoid this striking process because the attorneys on the list supplied by the Supreme Court do not usually have experience with running medical review panels and the laws of medical malpractice cases.
Once an attorney chairman is selected, he will write to the patient or his attorney and provide a time period for the patient to select a physician to sit on the medical review panel. If the patient or his attorney fails or refuses to make a selection to the medical review panel, then the attorney chairman is legally empowered to make that selection for the patient.
Often, patients and their attorneys are reluctant to choose a member of the medical review panel. The reason for this reluctance is that approximately 97% of the medical review panels rule in favor of the doctor and against the patient. Since the opinion of the medical review panel and the testimony of its members is admissible at trial, the defense will argue that the patient's chosen representative on the medical review panel ruled against him.

Thus, the safer route is for the patient not to make a selection of their own and to allow the attorney chairman to make the selection for him. That way, at trial, the defense cannot argue that the patient's representative ruled against him.
After the patient's physician representative is selected to the medical review panel, the defendant then makes his selection. Once those two physicians are picked, then they get together and select the third member of the medical review panel. Once the third member is selected, then the medical review panel is deemed to be officially formed and it will remain intact for one year, unless one of the parties extends that year by filing a motion with the court.

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