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Medical Malpractice in Louisiana: A Closer Look at Misdiagnosis Cases

Posted in Medical Malpractice on October 3, 2023

Delvin Breaux, a former cornerback for the New Orleans Saints, has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against two doctors previously employed by the team. The lawsuit alleges Dr. Deryk Jones, Dr. Misty Suri, and their employer, Ochsner Health System, misdiagnosed Breaux’s broken leg as a bruise in 2017. The Saints later terminated the doctors after discovering the misdiagnosis. Ochsner Health System defended the doctors, starting a medical review panel that met the standard of care. However, one of Breaux’s attorneys noted the panel’s ruling doesn’t prevent a lawsuit.

Breaux sustained the injury during a training camp and continued to experience pain despite treatment based on the misdiagnosis. A second opinion revealed he had a fractured fibula, requiring surgery and sidelining him for the entire season. The lawsuit targets the doctors and Ochsner Health System but not the Saints, as Louisiana law allows medical malpractice suits only against medical providers. Breaux’s NFL career ended after the incident, and he returned to the Canadian Football League at a significantly lower salary.

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to meet the standard of care, resulting in harm to a patient. In Louisiana, one common form of medical malpractice is misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis can happen in various medical settings, from general practitioners’ offices to specialized clinics. It involves incorrect, delayed, or missed identification of a medical condition. Such errors can lead to ineffective treatment, worsening of the condition, or even life-threatening situations.

In Louisiana, medical malpractice laws are in place to protect patients and hold healthcare providers accountable for their actions. To prove a misdiagnosis case, it is generally required to show a medical professional’s actions deviated from accepted medical standards and directly caused harm to a patient. 

Common Signs of Misdiagnosis: What to Watch For

Misdiagnosis can have serious consequences, so recognizing its signs early on is important. One red flag is inconsistent test results don’t align with the diagnosed condition. Another sign could be symptoms persist or worsen despite treatment. In some cases, a second opinion from another healthcare provider may yield a different diagnosis altogether. Additionally, treatments that should be effective for a diagnosed condition may not yield any improvement, raising questions about the accuracy of the initial diagnosis.

Patients may also experience new symptoms not fitting the original diagnosis. For example, if someone is diagnosed with a respiratory issue but starts experiencing unrelated digestive problems, it could indicate a misdiagnosis. 

Legal Requirements for Filing a Misdiagnosis Claim in Louisiana

In Louisiana, filing a misdiagnosis claim involves several legal steps. First, a claimant must prove a doctor-patient relationship existed, establishing a duty of care. Next, it must be demonstrated the healthcare provider failed to meet the standard of care expected in the medical community. This failure is often shown through expert testimony, which compares the actions of the healthcare provider in question to what a competent provider would have done under similar circumstances.

Another key element is establishing causation, meaning the misdiagnosis directly led to harm or worsening of the patient’s condition. Finally, the claimant must show damages suffered, which could be physical, emotional, or financial, because of the misdiagnosis.

Steps to Take Immediately After Suspecting a Misdiagnosis

When someone suspects a misdiagnosis, immediate action can make a significant difference in health outcomes. One of the first steps is to seek a second opinion from another healthcare provider. A fresh perspective can either confirm the original diagnosis or suggest alternative possibilities. It’s also advisable to request copies of medical records, including test results and treatment plans, for review and to share with the second healthcare provider.

Another important step is to maintain a detailed record of symptoms, treatments, and any changes in health status. These records can be valuable for future medical evaluations. If the second opinion differs from the first, it may be necessary to undergo additional tests or evaluations to reach a more accurate diagnosis.

Expert Opinions: Why They Matter in Misdiagnosis Cases

In misdiagnosis cases, expert opinions hold significant weight. These opinions often come from medical professionals who specialize in the field relevant to the case. Their insights can help establish whether the standard of care was met or violated. Experts can analyze medical records, test results, and treatment plans to offer an informed perspective on the quality of care provided.

Expert opinions can also help in identifying whether the misdiagnosis led to harm. For instance, an expert can assess if delayed treatment due to misdiagnosis resulted in a worsened condition. Moreover, experts can shed light on what a competent healthcare provider would have done under similar circumstances, providing a benchmark against which the actions of the healthcare provider in question can be measured. 

Compensation in Misdiagnosis Cases: What Can Victims Expect?

In misdiagnosis cases, victims may be eligible for various types of compensation. These can include reimbursement for medical expenses incurred due to incorrect or delayed treatment. Compensation may also cover lost wages if the misdiagnosis led to an inability to work. In more severe cases, where the misdiagnosis has long-term or permanent effects, victims may receive compensation for future medical costs and loss of earning potential.

Emotional distress is another factor often considered when determining compensation. The stress and anxiety caused by a misdiagnosis and its aftermath can have a profound impact on a person’s well-being. In some instances, punitive damages may be awarded, particularly if it is found the healthcare provider acted with gross negligence. 

Statute of Limitations: Time Limits for Filing a Misdiagnosis Claim

Medical Malpractice Claims

In Louisiana, time limits, known as the statute of limitations, exist for filing a misdiagnosis claim. Generally, a claim must be filed within one year from the date the misdiagnosis was discovered, or should have been discovered with reasonable diligence. However, the claim cannot be filed more than three years after the date of the harmful medical act itself. These time limits are strict, and failure to file within these periods can result in the claim being dismissed, regardless of its merits.

Exceptions to these time limits do exist. For example, in cases involving minors or individuals declared mentally incompetent, different rules may apply. Understanding the statute of limitations is important for anyone considering a misdiagnosis claim, as it dictates the timeframe within which legal action must be taken.

If you are dealing with a medical malpractice case, contact us or call (504) 500-5000 today for a free consultation.