Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

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Plaintiffs alleged that an infection developed after negligent medical treatment was provided by the defendants. Accordingly, they filed a Request for Medical Review Panel and, subsequently, a lawsuit. The Supreme Court granted the plaintiffs’ writ application to determine whether the medical review panel complaint was sufficient to survive an exception of prematurity. After review, the Court found the brief descriptions of malpractice contained in the complaint were broad enough to encompass the specific allegations contained in the petition for damages. Thus, the Court reversed the lower courts’ grant of the exception of prematurity and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Coulon v. Endurance Risk Partners, Inc." on Justia Law

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This medical malpractice case arose from the death of Lyric Pitts, seven month old daughter of plaintiffs David Pitts, Jr. and Kenyetta Gurley. A jury found in favor of defendant Dr. Rhoda Jones. Plaintiffs moved for a Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict (JNOV), or alternatively for a new trial. The district court granted the JNOV and conditionally granted the new trial. The court of appeal reversed and reinstated the jury's verdict. The Supreme Court granted plaintiffs' writ application to review the correctness of the lower courts' rulings on the JNOV and new trial. After its review, the Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeal's ruling reversing the district court's grant of the JNOV. However, the Court reversed the ruling of the court of appeal relative to the new trial, finding no abuse of discretion in the district court's grant of a new trial. View "Pitts v. Louisiana Medical Mutual Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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In 2003, plaintiff Kimberly Thibodeaux became pregnant with her fourth child. Dr. James Donnell was her obstetrician-gynecologist throughout her pregnancy. During the course of the pregnancy, plaintiff was diagnosed with complete placenta previa and, in mid-November, at approximately 29 weeks pregnant, she was hospitalized for four days. Upon Dr. Donnell’s referral, she consulted a maternal/fetal medicine specialist who handled high risk pregnancies; the specialist recommended rest, limited activity, and delivery of plaintiff’s child at 36-37 weeks gestation. Plaintiff returned to the hospital with renewed vaginal bleeding and contractions. Dr. Donnell delivered plaintiff’s child via cesarean section. Shortly after the baby’s delivery, Dr. Donnell performed an emergency cesarean hysterectomy, which entailed removal of plaintiff’s uterus and cervix. After completing the hysterectomy, and while preparing to close plaintiff’s abdomen, Dr. Donnell discovered a large laceration to her bladder, which he repaired himself. After completing the surgery, Dr. Donnell ordered a test to determine if the bladder repair was successful. The test revealed that the bladder sutures were obstructing plaintiff’s ureters, the tubes that drain urine from the kidney into the bladder. This obstruction was then confirmed by a cystoscopy performed by a urologist, Dr. Robert Alexander, consulted by Dr. Donnell. The same day as the birth and cesarean hysterectomy, Dr. Alexander reopened plaintiff’s abdomen, removed the bladder sutures to free the ureters, and re-repaired the bladder laceration. Plaintiff followed up again with Dr. Alexander in late April 2004. Although her bladder healed, plaintiff continued to see Dr. Alexander for three years with irritative bladder symptoms, including urinary frequency every 30-60 minutes, urgency, urine leakage, painful urination, painful sexual intercourse, urination during sexual intercourse, excessive nighttime urination, and abdominal pain. Dr. Alexander diagnosed her with interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome, and prescribed medications, none of which relieved plaintiff’s symptoms. According to Dr. Alexander, plaintiff’s diminished bladder capacity was permanent. The Supreme Court granted review of this case to determine whether the court of appeal properly assessed damages under the principles set forth in “Coco v. Winston Industries Inc.,” (341 So. 2d 332 (La. 1976)). The Court found that, because the court of appeal found manifest error in the jury’s factual findings, the appellate court should have instead performed a de novo review of damages under the principles outlined in “Mart v. Hill,” (505 So. 2d 1120 (La. 1987)). Accordingly, the Court reversed the court of appeal and remanded back to that court for reconsideration under the proper caselaw precedent. View "Thibodeaux v. Donnell" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Louisiana Supreme Court's review was a res nova issue of whether a claim for negligent credentialing fell within the purview of the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (LMMA) and was, therefore, subject to its statutory cap on damages. After completion of the medical review process, plaintiffs Brandi, Veronica, and Joseph Billeaudeau proceeded in their suit against Opelousas General Hospital Authority (OGH), among other defendants, for injuries Brandi sustained allegedly arising from the medical malpractice of Dr. Kondilo Skirlis-Zavala, an independent contractor working in the OGH’s emergency department (ED). Along with their medical malpractice claims, plaintiffs specifically alleged OGH was negligent in credentialing Dr. Zavala and subsequently moved for partial summary judgment, seeking a determination that their negligent credentialing claim was not subject to the LMMA’s cap on damages. The District Court granted the motion and ultimately certified the judgment as final. The Court of Appeal affirmed on appeal. The Supreme Court found plaintiffs’ negligent credentialing claim did not fall within the provisions of the LMMA. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the Court of Appeal. View "Billeaudeau v. Opelousas General Hospital Authority" on Justia Law

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This case arose from post-operative injuries plaintiff Richard Dupuy sustained based on a hospital’s alleged failure to properly maintain and service equipment utilized in the sterilization of surgical instruments. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether the plaintiffs’ claims that the hospital failed to properly maintain and service equipment utilized in the sterilization of surgical instruments fell within the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (“MMA”). The Supreme Court concluded the claims did fall within the MMA and reversed the ruling of the district court which held to the contrary. View "Dupuy v. NMC Operating Company, LLC d/b/a Spine Hospital of Louisiana" on Justia Law

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In 2007, Clyde Snider, Jr. was hospitalized for a suspected myocardial infarction. He would later get surgery and be given a pacemaker. Following up on an unrelated issue, Snider's treating doctors found infection at the site of the pacemaker. The doctor who recommended implantation of the pacemaker was found to have rushed the decision to give Snider the pacemaker. "Except for the relatively minor complication of a hematoma, and the surgical scar after pacemaker extraction," a medical review panel found no evidence of any long term, major injury to Snider. Snider sued the treating doctor and his liability insurer for damages arising out of the doctor's alleged negligence in the implantation of the pacemaker. A jury later found that the doctor did not breach the appropriate standard of care in Snider's medical negligence action, which Snider appealed. Finding that the jury's verdict was supported by the evidence and was not clearly wrong, the Supreme Court affirmed the verdict. View "Snider v. Louisiana Medical Mutual Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Dustin Watkins suffered an in utero stroke approximately two days before he was born (in 1990), allegedly arising out of the medical malpractice of the treating obstetrician, Dr. Richard Barry, which resulted in a brain injury. This medical malpractice action followed, and a November 2003 trial resulted in multiple damage awards. At issue in this case was the extent to which the Louisiana Patient's Compensation Fund (PCF) continued to be obligated to make advance payments for custodial/attendant care for a medical malpractice victim, after receiving information indicating that such care may no longer be needed, and whether the PCF had the right to unilaterally terminate such payments, without prior court approval, when a judgment was previously rendered ordering it to make said payments. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that when the PCF denies a claim for payment of a future medical or related expense and the district court thereafter exercises its continuing jurisdiction and issues a ruling as to that matter, the PCF is obligated to comply with the district court's ruling, order, or judgment unless it modified or set aside by the court. View "Watkins v. Lake Charles Memorial Hospital" on Justia Law

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Within days of his twenty-seventh birthday, Clyde Snider, Jr., was hospitalized for a suspected myocardial infarction. A few months later, after complaining of chest pains, he went to a second doctor and different hospital facility. He would later receive a pacemaker. Snider sustained an unrelated injury to the area of his pacemaker, when on his return home from the hospital, his two-year-old daughter ran to greet him, jumped into his arms, and struck his chest which caused an injury to the surgical site. Returning to the hospital where he was first treated for cardiac troubles, Snider's treating physician recommended that the pacemaker be removed when he found symptoms of infection at the pacemaker site. The next day the pacemaker was removed. Subsequently, Snider sued Dr. Robin Yue, the physician who recommended he receive the pacemaker. The medical review panel concluded that Dr. Yue had failed to comply with the appropriate standard of care and that his conduct was a factor in the "minor resultant damage." The case was tried before a jury, which ruled in favor of Dr. Yue, finding that Snider had not proved by a preponderance of the evidence that Dr. Yue breached the applicable standard of care. Snider's subsequent motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and, alternatively, for new trial was denied by the district court judge, who stated that the jury verdict was not clearly contrary to the law and evidence. The appellate court reversed and ruled in favor of Snider and against the doctor on the issue of liability and remanded the matter to the district court to allow the parties an opportunity to complete the record as to damages. The doctor contended on appeal that the appellate court erred: in failing to adhere to the proper standard of review; in substituting its judgment on the weight of evidence, evaluation of facts, and determinations of credibility for those of the jury; in reversing the jury verdict on liability; and in its interpretation and application of the Uniform Consent Law. After its review of the matter, the Supreme Court concluded that because the jury concluded Snider gave informed consent in this matter, Dr. Yue did not breach the standard of care. The appellate court attributed legal error to the jury's finding because Dr. Yue did not comply with Subsection (E) of LSA-R.S. 40:1299.40. However, as compliance with the requirement of informed consent was alternatively attainable under Subsection (A) or (C), the Supreme Court concluded the appellate court erred. The appellate court should have applied a manifest error standard of review to the jury's factual finding that informed consent was given in this case. Therefore, the Court reversed the appellate court decision, and remanded the case back to that court with instructions to consider and rule upon Snider's assignments of error. . View "Snider v. Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to review an appellate court reversal of a district court's ruling that defendants, a medical diagnostic monitoring company and its employee/physician, were not "qualified health care providers" under the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act for purposes of alleged acts of medical malpractice. Upon careful consideration of the district court record, the Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, reinstated the district court judgment, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Luther v. IOM Company, LLC" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case centered on whether a non-health care provider could be a joint tortfeasor with a health care provider being sued for medical malpractice. The non-health care provider in this case was an answering service tasked with relaying calls from a patient to their doctor after office hours. The patient learned that the service failed to convey his messages to his doctor despite the doctor giving the service explicit instructions to call. The patient sued the doctor for malpractice, and included the answering service. The service moved to dismiss, claiming that it could not be considered a joint tortfeasor under the statute under which the doctor had been sued. Finding that the clear language of La. R.S. 40:1299.47(A)(2)(a) applied to filing suit against the non-health care provider, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court rulings which granted and affirmed summary judgment in favor of the non-health care provider. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Milbert v. Answering Bureau, Inc." on Justia Law