Most Common Medical Malpractice Mistakes

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Diagnostic errors were the number one cause of medical malpractice claims from 2013 to 2017, according to a white paper published by a nationally recognized medical insurance company. The medical malpractice insurer Coverys found that diagnosis-related failures were the single largest root cause of claims  handled by the company.

“The issue of diagnostic inaccuracy is no small matter,” the report acknowledges. “Among our own insured providers at Coverys, diagnosis-related events are the single largest common root cause of medical professional liability claims. On a national scale, it has been estimated that 10-20% of all diagnoses are inaccurate.”

That’s particularly troubling because as the report notes, each year in the U.S., patients will make 125.7 million hospital outpatient visits and 884.7 million physician office visits, citing statistics from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.

Of the company’s 3,466 closed claims from 2013-2017 with diagnosis-related  allegations, claims involving cancer were the most prevalent, followed by infections, cardiac/vascular conditions, fractures/dislocations, and myocardial infarctions, according to the company’s report.

The report examined the role of the radiologist in cancer diagnoses: More than half of diagnosis-related claims involve an allegation about something that went wrong during one of the testing steps, specifically diagnostic studies that involve radiology and the presence of cancer. “The vast majority of claims related to breast cancer and lung cancer allege that the specialist with the most accountability was the radiologist.”

The company makes recommendations for healthcare providers to minimize their exposure to medical malpractice claims. But the reality is that errors in medical care do occur and often they have devastating consequences for the patient. At Joseph Joy and Associates, our lawyers are experienced in navigating the complexities of medical malpractice claims.

In his 40 years of practicing law, Lafayette Medical Malpractice Attorney Joseph Joy has handled many claims involving a diagnostic mistake. “Years ago, I sued the insurance company’s doctor for a negligent defendant medical examination,” recalled Joseph Joy. “In that case, the patient’s treating physician diagnosed a herniated disc warranting surgery. The insurance company’s physician read the MRI and disagreed.  He read the MRI has being  within normal limits and felt the patient did not need a lumbar spinal fusion. When in fact, after a while, because he needed a spinal fusion, the disc compressed the nerve harder and the patient developed a severe bladder problem and incontinence which required emergency surgery to fuse it and he got a bad result because of the delay,” Joy explained.  The law firm of Joseph Joy and Associates recovered over $1 million for  the client.

The procedure to assert a medical malpractice claim in Louisiana is complex and cannot be waived. In Louisiana, patients who want to sue their doctor for medical malpractice must submit their claim to a medical malpractice review panel. Lafayette medical malpractice Attorney Joseph Joy has successfully litigated many claims against physicians and healthcare providers in his 40 years of experience.  Joseph Joy’s experience is that it takes about a year and a half for a medical malpractice review panel to consider and issue its opinion. And, according to Joseph Joy, because the panels are made up of physicians, their rulings are usually favorable to the doctor.

Louisiana  law requires medical malpractice claims be filed one year from the date the malpractice occurred, or within one year from the date that the plaintiff knew or reasonably should have discovered that the malpractice occurred.  However, no lawsuits can be filed for medical malpractice more than three years from the date of the negligent act(s).

This requirement may make it difficult, if not impossible for medical malpractice plaintiffs to actually file suit with a year of the alleged act of malpractice so the prescriptive period is suspended. The filing of the request for a medical malpractice panel’s review of the claim suspends the time within which suit must be instituted pursuant to La. R.S 40:1299.47(A)(2)(a), until 90 days following notification, by certified mail…to the claimant or his attorney of the issuance of the opinion by the medical review panel.

The prescriptive period for filing a medical malpractice claim is tricky especially if the patient does not discover or learn of the medical malpractice beyond the one year prescriptive period or if the physician continuously treats the patient in order to improve the medical condition at issue.

When you retain our services to represent you in a Louisiana medical malpractice case, we will work immediately to obtain the compensation you need for your  recovery. Call our office now at 337-232-8123 or visit us at 900 S. College Rd., Lafayette, LA.

LA Rev Stat § 9:5628

  • 5628. Actions for medical malpractice
  1. No action for damages for injury or death against any physician, chiropractor, nurse, licensed midwife practitioner, dentist, psychologist, optometrist, hospital or nursing home duly licensed under the laws of this state, or community blood center or tissue bank as defined in R.S. 40:1299.41(A), whether based upon tort, or breach of contract, or otherwise, arising out of patient care shall be brought unless filed within one year from the date of the alleged act, omission, or neglect, or within one year from the date of discovery of the alleged act, omission, or neglect; however, even as to claims filed within one year from the date of such discovery, in all events such claims shall be filed at the latest within a period of three years from the date of the alleged act, omission, or neglect.
  2. The provisions of this Section shall apply to all persons whether or not infirm or under disability of any kind and including minors and interdicts.
  3. The provisions of this Section shall apply to all healthcare providers listed herein or defined in R.S. 40:1299.41 regardless of whether the healthcare provider avails itself of the protections and provisions of R.S. 40:1299.41 et seq., by fulfilling the requirements necessary to qualify as listed in R.S. 40:1299.42 and 1299.44.

Acts 1975, No. 808, §1; Acts 1976, No. 214, §1; Acts 1987, No. 915, §1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1990, No. 501, §1; Acts 1995, No. 818, §1; Acts 1995, No. 983, §1, eff. June 29, 1995; Acts 2001, No. 95, §1.




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