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Prelitigation Screening Panels in Idaho

In Idaho, a complaint for medical malpractice against a physician or hospital must be preceded by the filing of a petition for a prelitigation screening panel with the Idaho Board of Medicine consistent with Idaho § 6-1001, et seq., or the complaint will be subject to dismissal.  The petition must be filed with the Idaho Board of Medicine prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. 

A prelitigation screening panel is comprised of 3 members.  Idaho Code § 6-1002 mandates that the panel's chairperson be a licensed attorney. The appointment of the other two members of the panel depends on whether the claim is against a licensed physician or a hospital. 

In the case where a claim is against a physician, the second member of the panel is to be another physician who is typically board certified in the same speciality as the doctor who forms the subject of the complaint, and then the third member to be appointed may neither be a lawyer nor physician. Id.

In the case where the claim is against a hospital, then the second panel member is to be an administrator of another hospital within the state, and the third member to be appointed is as in the case of a claim against a physician to be another member of the community who is neither a physian nor lawyer.  Id.

Once the prelitigation screen panel is appointed, the panel chairperson will schedule an informal hearing to give the claimant the ability to present the claimant’s claim and evidence to the panel members. The respondent physician or hospital is afforded the opportunity to respond at the conclusion of the Claimant's presentation to the board thereafter.

At hearing, the Claimant bears the burden of proof to establish by expert testimony that it was more likely than not that the physician or hospital violated the local standard of community care then and there existing at the time of the alleged negligence.

The panel has up to 90 days from the date of the hearing to render a report containing the panel’s findings unless the parties agree to a 30 day extension. The statute of limitations to file a complaint against the physician or hospital is tolled from the time the petition for a prelitigation screening panel is filed up and until 30 days after the panel issues its report containing the panel's findings as a result of its deliberation. See, e.g., James v. Buck, 111 Idaho 708, 727 P.2d 1136 (1986).

The purpose of the prelitigation screening panel is to provide the parties with the ability to resolve the claim informally and to avoid litigation, however, it has been my experience that claims regarding medical malpractice are rarely, if ever, resolved at this level without the filing of a complaint. Most, if not all, errors and omissions insurance policies insuring a physician or hospital have a provision therein that requires the consent of the physician or hospital before the insurance can settle the claim.  Therefore, it is common practice that the parties engage in some formal discovery (including the taking of a deposition of the claimant and physician) before a case is typically resolved either by settlement or verdict.

Therefore, it is wise before filing a petition for a prelitigation screening panel to consult with an experienced medical malpractice trial attorney before requesting a prelitigation screening panel. Mr Morton has been a trial lawyer for over 31 years. He is available to talk with you about your claim for medical malpractice and answer any questions you may have regarding your legal rights and remedies. His telephone number is 208.344.5555 or toll free at 888.716.8021 or visit and complete the online contact form at http://www.mortonlawyers.com/contact.cfm. You may also wish to visit the testimonial page of Mr. Morton’s former clients at:

http://www.mortonlawyers.com/testimonials.cfm