Every state writes its own medical malpractice laws and procedures. They mostly sound reasonably similar when comparing states. But Indiana is one state that stands out for some of its unusual features.

Medical review panel considers the medical merits

Many states require a malpractice suit to include a kind of permission note from a qualified doctor who has looked at the case. The document confirms that the doctor believes it is worth the court’s consideration, but the judge and jury arrive at all the important judgments.

But in 1975, Indiana was the first state of over a dozen to require most suits to instead survive a medical review panel of health care professionals. In Indiana, this powerful panel hears the testimony of the people involved, examines the documents of the case and gives its opinion.

That opinion relates to whether the healthcare provider reasonably met the standard of care.

Standard of care depends on many factors

The standard of care is the main issue in almost every state. Sometimes healthcare providers do what essentially any other would do, but the patient’s outcome still disappoints everyone. The question is whether the healthcare provider met the standard of care.

Was the care consistent with what could be expected from a reasonably capable provider in their field of medicine given comparable information, time and other assets and constraints?

Sometimes, the answer is no. Most doctors would have provided “better” care that met the standard.

If the panel approves the suit, the court receives the findings. However, much still needs deciding. A variety of issues such as the severity of the patient’s injuries and its effects on their life, and the obligations the doctor and their institution had given the wide and complex context of the case.

Statute of limitations is not a suggestion

The statute of limitations says that if the patient does not file their lawsuit within a certain time, they cannot file it at all. Such statutes are often more complex than you might expect.

From the date of the harm the doctor did, the patient has two years to initiate the lawsuit. If they did not and could not have known about the harm the provider did, the two-year clock starts ticking when the patient could have known.

The patient may need to be prepared to prove they should get this extension.

The two-year statute of limitation applies to anyone six years old or older. If the patient was less than six at the time of the harm, they have until their eighth birthday to file suit.