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Massachusetts malpractice laws were changed in 2012 with the addition of MGL c. 231 s.60L, which establishes a process and time frame for patients and doctors to discuss alleged mistakes by health care providers, and perhaps settle claims without going to court.

Under this law, a health care provider must generally be given 182 days’ written notice before a medical malpractice claim is filed.

This notice must include (1) the factual basis for the claim; (2) the standard of care the patient claims to be applicable; (3) how the patient believes the applicable standard of care was breached; (4) what should have been done to comply with this standard of care; (5) how the breach of the standard of care was the proximate cause of the injury; and (6) the names of all health care providers that the patient intends to notify under this section in relation to a claim.

The health care provider has 150 days from when they receive the written notice to provide a written response.

The response must include, in part, (1) the factual basis for the defense; (2) the standard of care that the provider claims to be applicable to the action; (3) how the provider was or was not compliant with the standard of care; and (4) how the health care provider contends that the alleged negligence of the health care provider was or was not a proximate cause of the claimant’s alleged injury or alleged damage.

If at any time during the notice period a health care provider informs the patient in writing that they do not intend to settle the claim, the patient may begin an action alleging medical malpractice, unless there is some other bar to the action.

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