Massachusetts Court Examines Role of Medical Malpractice Tribunal in Malpractice Claims

A medical injury can turn your whole life upside down. If you have suffered an injury that you believe was caused by medical negligence, we may be able to help you recover compensation for your harm. At The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates, P.C., our diligent Massachusetts medical malpractice attorneys are devoted to helping victims of medical malpractice understand their rights and options following an injury. We take great pride in providing personalized and detail oriented representation to each and every client.

In Feliciano v. Attanucci, a woman who was 38-and-a-half weeks pregnant went to the hospital in labor. When the woman’s labor slowed down, an obstetrician performed an emergency bedside C-section. Then, another doctor performed a bedside laparotomy and helped in an emergency bedside hysterectomy. Twenty-five hours after being admitted to the hospital, the patient died from hemorrhagic shock, disseminated intravascular coagulation and amniotic fluid embolism.

The decedent’s estate filed a medical malpractice case against the two physicians alleging, among other things, that they failed to recognize the woman’s condition in a timely manner. Medical malpractice takes place when a medical professional fails to use the appropriate level of care, thereby causing injury or death to a patient. The plaintiff provided expert opinion that the defendant’s medical treatment fell below the accepted standard of care, which resulted in the patient’s premature and preventable death.

Under Massachusetts’ law, after a lawsuit has been filed, the plaintiff’s lawyer is required to make an Offer of Proof to a special three-person tribunal that consists of a Superior Court judge, a doctor practicing in the same specialty as the defendant, and a lawyer. The tribunal decides whether the plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence of negligence to permit the lawsuit to proceed. If the tribunal rules against the plaintiff, the plaintiff is still able to move forward with the lawsuit but must post a bond. Here, the tribunal determined that the plaintiff did not raise a legitimate question of liability. The plaintiff did not post a bond and the claim was dismissed.

The plaintiff appealed. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts reversed holding that the plaintiff did, in fact, raise a legitimate question of liability with respect to the physicians. The court explained that the plaintiff’s expert opinion was sufficient to raise a legitimate question of liability in regards to the first obstetrician and the extrinsic evidence supported the expert’s opinion with respect to the second obstetrician. As such, the court determined that the lower court had erred and vacated its judgment of dismissal and allowed the plaintiff to continue with his claims.

If you have been injured or someone you know has died as a result of medical malpractice, you need to consult a skilled Massachusetts medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. At The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates, P.C., we understand that you most likely have a plethora of questions about the legal process and about the viability of your claim. You can rest assured that we will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the alleged malpractice and provide you with an honest assessment of your claim. For more information about your case, please feel free to call us today at 1-800-262-9200 or contact us online.