MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMS: The Reasonable Inquiry & Good Faith Certificate Requirements
I am often asked by prospective clients if they have a malpractice claim as a result of a perceived medical error in the treatment they received from a health care provider. The answer to that simple question is an involved process that requires careful review and analysis, along with a written opinion from a health care provider with similar qualifications to the one who committed the error.
Connecticut has adopted a statute (C.G.S. 52-190a(a)) which provides that where the alleged negligence involves a health care provider, before a lawsuit can be filed a reasonable inquiry must be made as permitted by the circumstances so as to determine that there are grounds for a good faith belief that there has been negligence in the care or treatment that has been rendered. The statute requires that when a complaint alleging medical negligence is a filed, it must contain a certificate that such reasonable inquiry gave rise to a good faith belief to support the claim, which must be further supported by a written medical opinion that there appears to be evidence of medical negligence, including a detailed basis for the formation of the opinion.
Thus, to answer the simple question: “do I have a malpractice claim”; requires obtaining the relevant medical records and having an expert who has the proper qualifications review the records and provide a written opinion which contains a detailed factual basis to support the determination that the care rendered did not satisfy the applicable standard of medical care. An unfavorable result from the treatment, in and of itself is not sufficient to support a claim of malpractice. Rather, to support a claim there must be a finding of specific deviation from the applicable standard of care in the course of the medical treatment. Often, a further step in the evaluation process also requires an analysis to determine if a malpractice claim is justified based on the cost consideration of pursuing such a claim. That determination requires consideration of the likely damage award measured against the significant costs of pursuing a medical malpractice claim.
Medical malpractice claims require careful review and assessment, and once filed significant time and effort to pursue. If you or a loved one has received medical care which you believe caused some injury due to the negligence of a health care provider, it is important to speak to an attorney experienced in medical malpractice claims so as to protect your rights.
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