A New Mexico woman was pro-active and attentive to protecting her own health when she arranged to have a screening mammogram in 2007 at a local radiology practice. She was surprised when she was told by the radiologist that a spot the size of a nickel was found in her right breast but she felt relief when she was told that the spot was a calcification that she should not be worried about after she had a follow-up mammogram.
The woman was told again in 2009 that she did not have breast cancer. She was told the same thing in both 2010 and 2011.
Fortuitously, the woman’s medical file was chosen at random for review by another doctor in 2012. By that time, the mass that was first detected five years earlier had grown into a large mass that was biopsied. The biopsy showed that the mass was cancerous. She had to undergo a mastectomy of her right breast shortly after her cancer diagnosis.
The woman filed a New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit on July 18, 2013, against the radiology company, several doctors, and others. As required by New Mexico law, her medical malpractice claim was sent to a New Mexico Medical Review Commission panel for review, which determined in April 2014 that there was evidence of medical negligence.
New Mexico’s Medical Review Commission
The New Mexico Legislature created the New Mexico medical review commission “to provide panels to review all malpractice claims against health care providers covered by the Medical Malpractice Act.” Medical malpractice lawsuits cannot be filed in New Mexico courts before application is made to New Mexico’s medical review commission and its decision is rendered. The application is required to contain (1) a brief statement of the facts of the case, naming the persons involved, the dates and the circumstances, so far as they are known, of the alleged act or acts of malpractice; and (2) a statement authorizing the panel to obtain access to all medical and hospital records and information pertaining to the matter giving rise to the application, and, for the purposes of its consideration of the matter only, waiving any claim of privilege as to the contents of those records. Nothing in that statement, however, is construed as waiving that privilege for any other purpose or in any other context, in or out of court.
The panel decides only two questions: (1) whether there is substantial evidence that the acts complained of occurred and that they constitute malpractice; and (2) whether there is a reasonable medical probability that the patient was injured thereby. The report of the medical review panel is not admissible as evidence in any action subsequently brought in a court of law but the report is sent to the health care provider’s professional licensing board. The panel’s decision has no administrative or judicial authority and is not binding on any party. The panel cannot make any effort to settle or compromise any claim or express any opinion on the monetary value of any claim.
Source: New Mexico Statutes Chapter 41: Torts Article 5: Medical Malpractice Act, 41-5-1 through 41-5-29.
If you were harmed as a result of medical malpractice in New Mexico or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a New Mexico medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a New Mexico medical malpractice case (or a medical malpractice case in your state), if appropriate.
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