Dawne Gee, a news anchor for Louisville's WAVE 3, has apparently reached a settlement agreement in a medical malpractice case stemming from negligent treatment she endured at Baptist Health Hospital in Louisville. In May 2014, Gee went to the hospital seeking treatment for leg pains and a potential blood clot. Reportedly, the facility lacked the necessary equipment and capable personnel to effectively treat her and Gee claimed her treatment was cruel. The suit filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court was based on “negligent infliction of unnecessary pain”. The claim alleged that several members of the hospital staff tried unsuccessfully to properly remove a needle from her arm during tests resulting in injuries to the region and significant pain. Amid the problems, Gee says the staff was increasingly rude and that hospital management refused to review or address the nature of the conduct.
The suit sought a jury trial and compensation for almost $17,000 in medical expenditures, $500,000 for physical pain and emotional suffering, as well as $1 million in punitive damages. Gee's attorney Kirsten Daniel stated that the case was dismissed with prejudice and resolved to the satisfaction of the parties. The final terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Medical malpractice law in Kentucky has said to have been lagging behind many states in becoming more equitable and cost effective. This year was a significant milestone in moving forward with the implementation of a Medical Review Panel process as part of several efforts for tort reform. The panels will consist of physicians licensed by the state board, categorized based on specialty and expertise. Three physicians will be assigned to review each potential case to assess whether it should proceed forward to a circuit court venue; they will be assisted by an attorney for oversight. The plaintiff and defendant will select one physician each and the third will be mutually approved.
Kentucky Deputy Secretary Tim Feeley says that the new process for assessment of medical malpractice cases is loosely based on the model employed by neighboring Indiana. The Kentucky Cabinet & Family Services will be facilitating the process and gauging performance during implementation. The new system has some of the following provisions:
- Plaintiffs and defendants will be provided a list of a minimum of five attorneys from which to choose an independent “chair” to guide each panel of medical experts.
- Panels will have a nine-month period to gather information and review the standards of care in question and assess the validity of the malpractice claim.
- The panel's finding will be chosen from the following options:
- A violation of standard of care
- A violation of standard of care without negative effects
- No violation of standard of care
Over 50 attorneys thus far have joined the pool of those available to be the non-voting chairperson to oversee the physician panels in potential cases. Lawmakers are hoping that the state's malpractice premium costs will be reduced and that many claims that lack merit will be effectively prevented from entering the courts.