The Wyoming Medical Review Panel Act of 2005 (2005 Wyoming Session Laws, Chapter 244) became effective July 1, 2005. The Act is codified as Wyoming Statute 9-2-1513 through 9-2-1523. The Act is authorized by Article 10, Section 4(b), of the Wyoming Constitution. This Constitutional Amendment was approved by the electorate on November 2, 2004.
Statement of Purpose:
The purposes of the Medical Review Panel Act are:
To prevent, where possible, the filing in court of actions against health care providers and their employees for professional liability in situations where the facts do not permit at least a reasonable interference of malpractice; and
To make possible the fair and equitable disposition of such claims against health care providers as are, or reasonably may be, well founded.
Permanent Rules regulating the Medical Review Panel were adopted November 21, 2005.
Claims alleging malpractice are filed with the Medical Review Panel (MRP) office, together with a medical information release. Notice is sent by certified mail to the named Health Care Provider. Notice also sent to Wyoming Bar and Health Care Provider's licensing authority, requesting a list of twelve (12) potential panel members.
The Director requests medical records from named health care provider and other health care providers. Copies of medical records are sent to the parties.
Health Care Providers have sixty (60) days to file an answer. The Claimant is required to file report from expert witness supporting the claim within sixty (60) days.
Health Care Provider is not required to answer; if not, claimant immediately authorized to file suit;
Parties can agree to waive hearing before panel;
Case goes to MRP for hearing.
After the medical records have been collected, a scheduling conference is called to determine a hearing date and location. The Director chooses two (2) health care providers and two (2) attorneys from the supplied lists for each panel. Those four (4) panel members choose a lay panelist. Panelists are paid for mileage, per diem, preparation time and hearing time. (Maximum $2,000 per claim)
Hearings are scheduled in the county where claim arose. Each party submits a disclosure statement detailing the party's contentions, incorporating the expert opinion, relevant medical records, and other evidence.
An informal hearing is conducted- each side presents witnesses and reports from experts.
Standard of Review:
Was there substantial evidence that the acts complained of occurred and that they constitute malpractice? "Substantial evidence" means evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to make a finding of fact. It may be less than the weight of the evidence, but it shall not be clearly contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. More is required to meet the burden then a mere scintilla of evidence or suspicion of the existence of a fact to be established. (WYO. STAT. 9-2-1515(v))
Was there a reasonable probability that the patient was injured as a result of the acts complained of? "Reasonable Probability" means a factual basis which might lead a reasonable mind to the conclusion. Where there is evidence in the record and room for more than two (2) opinions, the conclusion shall be reached honestly and upon due consideration. (WYO. STAT. 9-2-1515(v))
The MRP deliberates and prepares a written decision within forty-five (45) days, which is sent to the parties. The MRP decision is not binding on either party. Admissibility of the decision is at the discretion of the District Court.