Recently, a young woman came to my office complaining of a horrible injury that occurred at a local dentist’s office. She brought her medical records and the medical records of her subsequent treating dentists. These dentists detailed the extent of her injuries and the malpratice of the offending dentist. After reviewing her records and consulting with her subsequent treating dentists, I called her and told her that she has a case. As soon as I told her the good news, she informed me that she had already recieved her money back from the offending dentist through a process known as “peer review.”
I was puzzled at first and asked her what peer review meant. She told me that peer review was a program by the American Dental Association (ADA) where a dentist and a patient submit to have their cases reviewed by a panel of dentists, and if negligence is found the patient gets the money back for the treatment. I then asked her if the panel gave her any money for her pain and suffering and permanent injuries. She replied that they did not.
I investigated this peer review program and found out that my client had unwittingly submitted to a process which would bar her from ever commencing a lawsuit. This information was not on any of the materials given to her from the peer review board, but could be found in small print on the ADA website. I was incensed that the ADA would create such a deceptive process that would cheat injured patients from pursuing justice in the court of law.
Thereafter, I had to tell my client that she was forever barred from bringing a malpractice action and would have to live with her injuries for the rest of her life without recourse.
The moral of this story is that if you are ever injured through the negligence or wrongdoing of another person, speak to a lawyer before entering any review process.