"Recent changes to Massachusetts' medical liability laws could be major game changers for those pursuing medical malpractice cases in the state," according to Eric J. Parker, managing partner of Parker Scheer, LLP, a Boston law firm that represents victims of medical negligence.
The Massachusetts legislature recently enacted St. 2012, Chapter 224, which resulted in the following changes:
Admissible Apologies: Under Massachusetts law, G.L. c. 233, §23D, a statement of sympathy, regret, etc., as it relates to a non-intentional harm or accident, is not admissible. Chapter 224 allows these types of statements to be admitted to impeach a contradictory statement made by a medical provider under oath. However, Chapter 224 provides no definition of what testimony is deemed a "contradictory statement."
Disclosure of Unintended Outcomes: Chapter 224 now mandates that a healthcare provider or facility, or an employee or agent of a healthcare provider or facility, fully disclose to a patient any unanticipated outcome with significant medical complications that results from the fault of the healthcare provider or facility, or an employee or agent of a healthcare provider or facility. Under G.L..c. 223 §79L(a), an "unanticipated outcome" occurs when "the outcome of a medical treatment or procedure, whether or not resulting from an intentional act, that differs from an intended result of such medical treatment or procedure." Chapter 224 does not clarify what constitutes "medical treatment or procedure" or what liability will incur if a full disclosure is not made. However, it is likely that failing to make a full disclosure could support the argument that the statute of limitations "tolled" until the unanticipated outcome was disclosed.
Notice to File Lawsuit: A patient [or his attorney] is now required to notify a healthcare provider of any impending lawsuit. The notice must be in writing and delivered at least 182 days before the lawsuit is filed. A healthcare provider has 150 days to respond, in writing, to the notice. Claims nearing the end of their statute of limitations are exempt from the notice provision.
If you have been injured by a healthcare provider or an employee or agent of a healthcare provider in Massachusetts, and think you may have a medical malpractice case, please contact Parker | Scheer LLP for a free consultation with one of our experienced Personal Injury Law and Business Litigation Lawyers.