Medical errors are frighteningly common occurrences in our hospitals, doctors offices and long-term care and other medical facilities. A recent Johns Hopkins University study estimates that medical error is the third leading cause of death in America resulting in the deaths of 250,000 people in the U.S. every year.
Other studies put that number even higher. A survey of recent studies on medical error in hospital settings estimated that a staggering 210,000 preventable errors are made each year that contribute to the death of hospitalized patients alone, not accounting for outpatient clinics and long-term care facilities which carry similar risks to patients.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a general term that covers a number of system and human errors that lead to harm or injury to a patient. It can include action or inaction on the part of a health care worker, such a pharmacist filling a prescription incorrectly or a physician failing to inform his patients of the risk of a particular medication.
Generally medical malpractice falling into the following broad categories:
- 1. anesthesia errors
- 2. birth injuries
- 3. surgical errors
- 4. medication errors
- 5. defective medical devices
- 6. failure to diagnose
- 7. medical record errors
- 8. mental health medical malpractice
- 9. elder care malpractice
- 10. hospital and emergency department errors
Determining if and how medical malpractice took place can be challenging. It is important to speak with a skilled, trusted attorney experienced in Louisiana medical malpractice cases right away if you believe you or a loved one was harmed by a medical error or negligence.
Louisiana Laws Governing Medical Malpractice
Louisiana’s Patient Compensation Fund automatically covers all public hospitals and associated healthcare workers. It also covers private “qualified healthcare providers” who can become members of the Fund if they meet certain requirements. Louisiana law caps medical malpractice damages for healthcare providers who are members of the Fund to $100,000 plus interest per patience per incident. Awards over that amount are paid directly by the Fund. Total medical malpractice damages in Louisiana are capped at $500,000 plus the cost of any future medical expenses. The PCF pays for future medical expenses directly, as they occur.
The statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim in Louisiana court is one year from the date of the malpractice, or within one year of the “discovery of harm.” So for example, a doctor may have prescribed you a combination of medications known to cause liver damage, but you might not discover that damage until months later. In Louisiana, all medical claims must be filed within three years of the date of the injury or malpractice, regardless of when they are discovered. In general, surviving family members have one year to file a wrongful death case in Louisiana.
Before filing a medical malpractice suit in Louisiana, victims of medical malpractice must submit a written request to the Patient Compensation Fund for the review of the case by a group of experts. The request details the events, injuries, and allegations of the case. The Fund reviews the request and notifies the victim if the offending doctor a “qualified healthcare providers” covered by the Fund, and if a panel will be convened to review the case. If so, a panel of three doctors and one attorney (the attorney serves only as an advisor) is convened to review the case. The doctors on the panel are charged with determining whether the evidence supports the conclusion that malpractice occurred, and whether that malpractice caused the injuries in question. The panel’s report is considered medical expert testimony. Panel reports are admissible evidence at trial and can be used in alternative dispute resolution, and any party may call any member of the panel as a witness.
If your case goes to trial, Louisiana law gives individual judges wide discretion to interpret statutes and decide medical malpractice awards. Regardless of how your case is resolved, don’t try to navigate the complex medical malpractice system alone. If you or a loved one has been injured by medical error or negligence, you owe it to your family to speak with a skilled Louisiana medical malpractice attorney right away.
Medical Malpractice And Birth Injuries In Louisiana
Errors made during the birth of a child are a particular egregious form of medical malpractice. Medical errors in these first crucial moments outside the womb can result in a lifetime of costly care, the lost potential of an individual, and untold pain and suffering for the victim and his or her family members.
Birth injuries can include:
- 1. Cerebral Palsy
- 2. Brain Injuries caused by oxygen deprivation
- 3. Facial Paralysis
- 4. Cephalohematoma
- 5. Nerve Damage Such as Brachial Plexus
- 6. Fractured Collarbone
- 7. Seizures, Shock or Coma Caused by Perinatal Asphyxia
- 8. Subarachnoid or intracranial hemorrhage
- 9. Spinal Cord Injuries
When the birth of a child turns into a waking nightmare of unexpected medical challenges and needed care, it can be difficult for loved ones to think clearly and understand exactly what happened and who is responsible. As your new baby recovers, you owe it to your child to speak with a caring, trusted attorney with knowledge of and experience with Louisiana medical malpractice law. At Charbonnet Law Firm, we can help guide you through this unimaginably difficult experience and make the best possible decisions about your legal rights to protect your family.
What To Do If You Suspect Medical Error
Medical error or negligence is not always obvious, and healthcare providers very rarely admit an error that may have caused harm. A hospital or medical group may actively work to correct an error its staff made without ever letting you know something went wrong. Or if an obvious error takes place, the physician, facility or their insurance company may pressure a patient or legal guardian to sign a hasty settlement.
If you witness, learn about, or suspect medical malpractice that has caused you or a loved one harm
- 1- Seek care and advice from another healthcare provider who you trust to be honest and competent.
- 2- Document everything. Keep all written communications (diagnoses, insurance claims, prescriptions and directions) and write down everything that you can remember about the circumstances of your care and your interactions with healthcare staff, including dates and time.
- 3- Speak with a trusted medical malpractice attorney who can help you understand your case.
Charbonnet Law Firm Can Help. Call Today!
Don’t delay! Contact a skilled attorney with experience winning Louisiana medical malpractices cases today. At Charbonnet Law Firm, our skilled legal team will be by your side every step of the way, helping you navigate the legal and insurance systems, and building the strongest case possible to win the compensation you deserve.
Call us today for a free consultation with a member of our dedicated legal team. We will help you understand your medical malpractice case, your options for compensation, and what comes next. And if you chose to work with our trusted, experienced team, we will handle all the details and fight for the best settlement possible, so that you and your family can focus on healing.