Massachusetts Court Requires Medical Malpractice Tribunal in Third Party Claims

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that non-patient claims for personal injury resulting from medical malpractice must first be presented to the Massachusetts medical malpractice tribunal.  The tribunal’s job is to review medical malpractice personal injury claims and decide whether there was actual medical malpractice involved or if the injury was merely an unfortunate medical result.

The decision concerned a hospital worker who was killed when a heavily medicated woman lost control of her car and drove it into an entrance to the Brockton Hospital where the victim worked.  The victim’s wife sued the doctors for her husband’s wrongful death, alleging they had failed to warn the woman that it was dangerous to drive while on her medications.

Ordinarily, medical negligence cases may only be brought by a patient against his or her medical provider. However, third parties may bring claims against a provider if the provider failed to warn the patient of the effects of medication, and the patient then injured the third party. The exception is a narrow one.

The case clarifies pre-trial procedures in such third party cases, as it was unclear whether or not an injured non-patient was required to bring their medical malpractice claim before the tribunal.  However, with today’s Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling, it is now clear that any person looking to bring a claim for personal injury resulting from medical malpractice must first present their claim to the medical malpractice tribunal, whether or not they were the patient.

The case was Vasa v. Compass Medical, P.C., SJC-10457, March 2, 2010.

If you’ve been injured as a result of medical malpractice

Please call our office if you need legal representation for personal injuries you received as a result of medical malpractice, whether or not you were the patient.  The attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 80 years of combined experience in dealing with these types of cases. Call 800-379-1244 for a free consultation.