When you have kids, you know how painful it is to watch when they are sick, to worry about every scratch, every bite. What is worse is when one child is sick, but another’s pain and suffering could have been prevented or alleviated with proper notice and tests. This is precisely what happened to Mickey and Amy Atkinson who consulted Dr. Young for treatment of their son Gabriel’s deep-skin pigmentation condition.
During the visit, Dr. Young diagnosed Gabriel with idiopathic Addison’s Disease but failed to test him to determine the cause of the disease, and this turned out to have reprecussions for the family. When Gabriel did not feel better, the Atkinsons sought a second opinion from another doctor, Dr. Janna Flint. To the family’s great dismay, Gabriel tested positive for a potentially fatal case of Addison’s Disease, which if left untreated, would result in death by age thirteen.
Upon finding this out, Dr. Flint recommended that the Atkinson’s other two sons get tested for this disease. As a result of Dr. Young’s failure to test the other sons, Evan and Luke, the Atkinsons filed suit alleging Dr. Young’s failure to test and sought damages. The doctor, however, stated that this case falls into an exception set out by the Louisiana Patient’s Fund Compensation Oversight Board because Luke was not a patient as defined within the meaning of the MMA (The Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act). Because of this exception, the claim is not subject to review by the medical review panel. Fortunately, the trial court heard the case and found that through Gabriel, Luke was a patient. Not only was the family dealing with the stress of two sick children, they were now preoccupied with the next steps to take in this matter.
There are ways for plaintiffs to file suit under this act, but there are also ways for the defendants to get around it. For example, if the patient fails to submit a claim to the medical review board before the institution of the suit, then remedy is the exception of prematurity. The MMA also has a narrow definition of the word “patient” which means a natural person who receives or should have received healthcare. But where does this leave parents like the Atkinsons and patients like Luke and Evan?
While Dr. Young alleged that there was no patient/physician relationship between him and Luke, Dr. Young was aware that this is a fatal, genetic disorder and a reasonable, careful doctor would have thought to test the siblings as well as the “patient.” While Luke may not have been a direct patient as defined by the MMA, he was still a patient in the sense that his brother was just diagnosed with a rare fatal disease, the result of which could be coma or death. This is alarming enough to make sure all children in the family are safe because based on the stated physician/patient relationship with Gabriel, there are cases that fall into exceptions in situations like these.
If you think you may have claim for medical malpractice or just want to speak to a professional who understands your needs and rights, call a team of people who are happy to address any of your concerns and questions.
Call the Berniard Law Firm at (504) 527-5225.