Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

abandoned-hospital-1-1227909-1-1024x683Families depend on nursing home staff to adequately care for loved ones. When loved ones suffer due to the negligence of nursing home staff, a medical malpractice suit can arise.

Recently, in Johnson v. CLVD, Inc D/B/A Green Meadow, the beginning injury arose on November 11, 2008, when Mr. Johnson’s catheter was removed, possibly by himself. The nursing staff left the catheter out due to a hospital policy that prohibited them from replacing it. On November 15, Mr. Johnson was unresponsive and taken to the hospital, where a catheter was reinserted. As a result, Mr. Johnson had more than three times the normal amount of urine in his system causing him to develop a urinary tract infection. This infection progressed into severe sepsis, septic shock, and several secondary infections. On December 15, he was admitted to Minden Medical Center with a fever, UTI, altered mental status, and worsening renal insufficiency. His condition worsened, and he died on December 25, 2008.

Mr. Johnson’s family filed a malpractice complaint against the hospital and a medical panel of three doctors reviewed it. Two of the doctors concluded that, by failing to reinsert the catheter or consult with Mr. Johnson’s treating physician, the nursing home staff failed to provide Mr. Johnson with appropriate care. This lack of care led to a chain of events resulting in Mr. Johnson’s death.  The third-panel member disagreed based on Mr. Johnson’s age and medical problems.

hospital-1236398-1024x915Imagine that your mother, a friend, or someone else you love dearly suffers from numerous health problems. In a terrible twist of fate, your loved one falls, worsening their current condition and making life more painful and difficult than it already is. To top it all off, what would already be considered a trying process is exacerbated because you feel like the doctors who are caring for your loved one aren’t listening to your input or concerns. After many visits to the emergency room and overnight hospital stays, your loved one passes away. Despite the health conditions before the fall, you feel like something wrong occurred during your loved one’s treatment and someone should be held responsible. This was exactly the scenario for the loved ones of Ms. Mary LeBoeuf. Five individuals, including her son and long-time partner, filed a lawsuit against her doctor, the hospital, and the orthopedic clinic on her behalf.

Ms. Mary LeBoeuf was a sixty-five-year-old woman who suffered from many health conditions including diabetes mellitus, peripheral vascular disease, cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, end-stage renal failures, osteopenia, hypertension, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Despite her poor health, Ms. LeBoeuf continued to smoke one to two packs of cigarettes a day.

On October 11, 2008, Ms. LeBoeuf fell and fractured her leg, but because of her preexisting health conditions, surgery was not an option. Dr. Casey, the orthopedic surgeon treating Ms. LeBoeuf, determined a cast would be the best treatment option for her. Nine days after she was released from the hospital, Ms. LeBoeuf returned with purple toes and a blister on her left foot. Her family was insistent on the cast being permanently removed. Dr. LaSalle, a fellow orthopedic surgeon, removed the cast to examine the area for more blisters, took more x-rays, and reapplied a new cast of which her family disapproved.

ambulance-1440939-685x1024Nursing homes have become an integral part of our society due to America’s aging population. Families need nursing homes to help them care for elderly parents and relatives, disabled individuals, and other people requiring increased care. Most nursing homes treat their residents with industry-standard care; but what if you discovered that someone you love had been mistreated, or even abused, by the nursing home you trusted to care for them? This is what happened with the family of Ms. Lessie Porter.

Lessie Porter lived in a nursing home because she had various mental and physical illnesses. She tried to escape the nursing home facilities many times and had to be subdued by medical staff. On the instance which sparked this lawsuit, Ms. Porter tried to escape but only made it to the doorway of her room. She was subsequently injected with a tranquilizer, dragged to her room so that her stomach and elbows were scratched, injected with another tranquilizer, and left on the floor for fifteen minutes in her soiled diaper.

Ms. Porter filed for a medical review panel with the Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF) but the PCF determined that her allegations were not within the scope of medical malpractice. She then filed a lawsuit alleging Southern Oaks failed to meet her needs, abused her, and was negligent toward her; also, she claimed damages for breach of contract, breach of the Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights, and breach of the standard of care.

medicine-5-1544051-1024x768It is no secret that a lawsuit has the potential to become a tangled web of procedural issues. This is why it is always a good idea to secure a good attorney with experience in dealing with the court system. Perhaps less common is the situation where the judge, the party responsible for ensuring an efficient and timely resolution of the dispute, gets tripped up in this procedural web. This is exactly the situation below.

The dispute centers on a medical malpractice claim. Ms. Johnson showed up to Tulane University Hospital and Clinic (Hospital) one evening suffering from a severe headache and double vision. The Hospital staff administered an IV in Johnson’s arm, which later became infected. The Hospital discharged her with some antibiotics and told her to follow up with her primary care physician. Ultimately, the infection worsened and required a more serious antibiotic treatment and even surgery. Johnson sued the Hospital and the nursing staff.

Johnson alleged six total negligence claims against the Hospital and the nurses. Pursuant to the Hospital’s summary judgment motion, the Trial Court dismissed all five allegations against the nursing staff but allowed one claim to proceed against the Hospital. That one claim pertained to the antibiotic dosage the Hospital prescribed to Johnson after her initial visit.

abandoned-mental-hospital-1543214-1024x766In November 2008, in Claiborne Parish, Mr. Fields went to Willis Knighton Claiborne Regional Health Center for complaints of diarrhea. Mr. Fields also had an extended history of medical issues, including hypertension and a kidney transplant. He saw a nurse practitioner, who consulted with a doctor and gave him a prescription for a generic antibacterial, which he took as directed. About a week later, he called his doctor’s office complaining that the medicine was making him feel worse. He alleged that he was instructed to continue taking the medicine as originally directed.

The next day, he collapsed at home and died soon after. The cause of death on his death certificate was listed as an acute cardiovascular attempt, which related to his past medical conditions. His children petitioned the Medical Review Panel (“MRP”) alleging malpractice by the hospital and its medical professionals. But the MRP concluded that the standard of care had not been breached, partly because Mr. Fields had never come back in for a follow-up. Mr. Fields’ children then filed a lawsuit against the hospital and Mr. Fields’ doctor and nurse as its employees.

The hospital filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the case should be dismissed because there were no genuine issues of material fact. The hospital supported its motion with the MRP’s findings of no breach of care and no causation. Opposing the motion, Mr. Fields’ children supported their allegations with a statement from Dr. Blanche Borzelle, a board-certified physician stating that the nurse and doctor involved had breached the standard of care and concluding that the breach led to Mr. Fields’ death.

scalpel-1316221-1024x768Professionals in various fields whose work greatly impacts the lives of others may find themselves accused of malpractice. Especially in medicine where a seemingly simple mistake can end one’s life, the lawsuits that stem from malpractice can bring large awards to plaintiffs. This is where malpractice insurance comes in, to make sure these amounts are paid without completely destroying the livelihood of that professional. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal discussed malpractice insurance issues in a recent ruling.

Dr. Eileen Lunch-Ballard was an employee of Correct Care, Inc. and working in a hospital in 2008 when her treatment of a patient left that person with an amputated leg and later dead. As a result, she was sued for medical malpractice. The Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Company (LAMMICO) provided Correct Care with medical malpractice coverage. In 2009, Dr. Lynch-Ballard had her medical license suspended. The attorney appointed by LAMMICO urged that the lawsuit against her and her employer be settled. Despite her objections and apparently without her knowledge, LAMMICO settled the medical malpractice lawsuit in December 2009 for a total of $90,000.

When she discovered this, Dr. Lynch-Ballard demanded that her name is removed from the settlement documents. Although it was briefly removed, the documents were ultimately not changed. Dr. Lynch-Ballard sued LAMMICO as well as its appointed attorney for the settlement without her consent and the refusal to remove her name from the documents. She claimed tort damages of a damaged reputation as well as mental anguish. She also claimed LAMMICO had breached the contract by failing to advise her to seek outside counsel. In response, LAMMICO filed a motion to dismiss her tort claims on the basis that since she was no longer working for Correct Care, they were not required to obtain her consent to settle. They also argued that her contractual claim should be considered prescribed and no longer valid. The Trial Court eventually ruled in favor of LAMMICO, dismissing the claims. Dr. Lunch-Ballard appealed to the Fifth Circuit.

abandoned-hospital-1-1227909-1024x683The average person experiences a great deal of emotion after a serious injury. The injured person is rushed to the hospital and places a great deal of faith in doctors to treat and diagnose injuries. Sometimes a medical professional fails to accurately diagnose a patient’s injuries, which can lead to a potential lawsuit against the doctor, hospital, or usually both.

In a civil trial against a medical professional, the party bringing the lawsuit must inform the court of their legal complaint within a specific period of time. For medical malpractice claims in Louisiana, that time period is one year. La. R.S. 9:5628. If the claim against the medical professional is not brought within one year, the injured party is foreclosed from recovering on that claim and ever bringing it in court again. In these situations, a related issue arises: when does that one year period begin? A recent Louisiana case answered this question.

Donna Hickman brought a lawsuit against Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital (Cabrini) and various doctors after she sustained injuries in a car accident. On the night of the car accident, January 21, 2012, Ms. Hickman was rushed to the hospital and given a CT scan. The doctors found the results of the scan concerning and recommended that Ms. Hickman visits her regular physician for additional attention.

hospital-walkway-1223350-777x1024If you have been affected by medical malpractice in any way, you must always be sure to know your rights and the time limits associated with filing any actions against the doctors or medical facilities involved. Generally, there are statutes that limit how long you have to file a claim in court for medical malpractice and if you miss those deadlines, you will not be able to file your lawsuit. It is of utmost importance to find a good lawyer right away who can help you understand your rights and navigate deadlines before it is too late. In Louisiana, the law requires that if you are filing for medical malpractice, you must do so within one year from the date of discovery of the alleged act, omission, or neglect associated with your case. See La. R.S. 9:5628.

In this case, Ms. Watson, a coach at a high school in Louisiana, had a family history of breast cancer. In March 2009, she visited Glenwood Medical Mall (“Glenwood”) to get a mammogram and the doctor (Dr. Atchison) found a small lesion. Ms. Watson testified that Dr. Atchison told her the lesion was benign and she was cancer-free. Just a few weeks later, she discovered a small knot in her breast and returned to the clinic in May 2009 convinced of a diagnosis of breast cancer. A nurse examined Ms. Watson and told her it was a superficial cyst caused by her soda intake. In May 2010, a different doctor told her she did indeed have breast cancer and Ms. Watson testified that by then she felt certain Dr. Atchison and Glenwood had misdiagnosed her cancer and that she had lived for an entire year with cancer and obtained no treatment because of that misdiagnosis.

Eventually, Ms. Watson had a double mastectomy upon the recommendation of the doctor who had found cancer. Ms. Watson filed her medical malpractice suit on June 14, 2011, claiming that she had reduced chances of survival and had undergone treatment that would not have otherwise been necessary. The doctor and hospital filed exceptions of prescription and argued that since Ms. Watson had received her diagnosis of breast cancer in May 2010 and filed in June 2011, she was outside the one-year period for filing a medical malpractice action. The Trial Court found that the evidence was enough to show Ms. Watson should have known about her misdiagnosis in May 2010 and held that the exception of prescription applied to time-bar her action.

stethoscope-2-1420449-1024x605The issue of whether a doctor’s treatment was the cause of a plaintiff’s injury can ultimately be left to a court to decide. If you have been injured after receiving treatment by a physician, it is important to contact a good lawyer to make sure you maximize your odds of winning the compensation you’re entitled to.

A good illustration of such an issue occurred on April 11, 2007. The plaintiff, in this case, Jerome Smith, was admitted to a hospital for various mental issues. Mr. Smith had a significant medical history of past mental lapses. He reported suffering from auditory and visual hallucinations and tested positive for cocaine upon admission.

Jay Piland, M.D., the defendant in the case and Medical Director of the hospital performed a medical history and physical consultation on Mr. Smith when he arrived at the hospital.  During the consultation, Dr. Piland discovered a foreign object in Mr. Smith’s ear and removed it. Mr. Smith asserted that Dr. Piland punctured his tympanic membrane during the removal of the object.

bike-trail-1437881-1024x683While participating in physical therapy sessions, most people would probably expect to be monitored by a therapist for the length of the session to ensure that things run smoothly. Unfortunately for one woman, Mrs. Laura Joinder, her physical therapist had other plans. As a result, Mrs. Joinder sued the defendant in Ouachita Parish for injuries she suffered while in their care.

In December of 2011, Mrs. Joinder had neck surgery and her surgeon referred her to receive physical therapy from Dr. Jesse Weid’s office. The attendant adjusted the exercise bike for the first and second visits but failed to do so on the third or fourth visit. The attendant also was not present in the room with Mrs. Joiner during the remaining visits. Consequently, she fell while getting off the bike and injured her left knee. The accident required her to undergo surgery, which was unsuccessful due to further complications.

In an affidavit filed in December of 2013, Mrs. Joiner documented that she twisted and slightly torqued her left knee while getting off the exercise bike and that this caused severe pain along with discomfort. Prior to that, in January of 2013, the defendants responded through interrogatories and said that Mrs. Joiner’s knee issues were from a preexisting condition that was not stated in the cause of action. The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss or stay a motion for summary judgment, along with a memo and attached exhibits.