Prelitigation review panels in alleged medical liability cases against health care providers are required under Title 78B, Chapter3, Part 4, of the Utah Code Annotated. The administrative rules applicable to prelitigation review panels are found in Section R156-78B of the Utah Administrative Code. A review of these statutes and regulations is recommended in order to become familiar with the legal requirements applicable to the prelitigation panel review process.
The prelitigation panel that will hear cases consists of:
- an attorney who serves as chairperson of the panel
- a lay member who is not a health care provider, hospital employee, or attorney
- a licensed health care provider practicing in each specialty in which each respondent health care provider practices
- a hospital administrator, if a hospital or its employees is named as a respondent
Prelitigation panel hearings are informal and non-binding. They are confidential and not open to the public. Formal rules of evidence, such as those applicable in a court proceeding, do not apply to panel hearings. Unless extraordinary circumstances exist, the hearing is not recorded. There exists no right of cross-examination by the parties or their counsel, and the findings of the panel are not admissible in evidence in any subsequent court proceeding.
Prelitigation panel hearings are helpful to the parties in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of their cases. Having a panel of impartial panelists review the evidence and assess the merits of each party's claims affords the parties and their attorneys an opportunity to make valuable decisions on whether or how to continue to pursue or defend a case.