Medical Malpractice

My Father was a master surgeon. My brother is an accomplished medical specialist. My daughter is a labor and delivery nurse, and helps to bring hundreds of babies into the world each year. Needless to say, my appreciation and affection for the medical profession is considerable. Unfortunately, modern medical science has expanded its influence on the lives of everyday Americans to such an extent that the potential for harm to patients is an undeniable reality. I firmly believe that when a doctor or other health care provider is negligent in the delivery of medical services, he or she should be responsible for the harm that is caused, just as ordinary people are responsible for the harms they cause.

The difficulty lies in determining the difference between a medical mishap and medical negligence. I believe that most negative occurrences in medicine do not rise to the level of medical malpractice. This is why for decades now I have said to prospective clients, “We are not Fords and the doctors are not mechanics.” Bad things happen, but they don’t all amount to malpractice.  Nonetheless, there are standards which do apply to medical conduct and when they are violated the doctor is no different than a driver who runs a stop sign. Negligence is negligence, whether one is a driver, a property owner, a product manufacturer – or a doctor.

Throughout the nation, courts have dealt with the subject of Medical Malpractice for decades. In some of our sister states, traditional notions of negligence, or tort law, still apply. In Louisiana, however, that law was legislatively over-ruled more than thirty five years ago. In its place, the citizens of our state were given the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (LMMA). It stripped Louisianans of their rights to access the courts and substituted a three person panel to review a case before the court can be involved.

The panel is made up of three doctors, from the same area as the defendant health care provider (HCP). Over 90% of these panels rule favorably for the HCP. The LMMA also placed a cap, or limit, on the dollar amount of damages recoverable. Whether damages for pain, injury, lost wages or loss of enjoyment of life are incurred (even in the millions), the award against a HCP is limited to $100,000. An additional sum of $400,000 may be obtained against a special fund administered by the state and medical bills are payable by that fund as a separate item.

These and dozens of other special rules applicable to Medical Malpractice make this area of the law one of the most specialized and challenging areas of tort law. At Palmintier Law, we have decades of experience in analyzing whether a bad result amounts to actionable malpractice. What’s more, we have tried many of these cases to juries throughout the state. Let us evaluate the facts of your case to let you know whether what happened to you was just an unfortunate occurrence or an act of Medical Malpractice.